Foundations in Gardening

Seed to Supper, Corrections Edition, plus Advanced Topics

For a few years, SPP staff at Evergreen have worked with numerous partners to develop a gardening course written for (and by) incarcerated gardeners. The course is meant to complement existing gardening education, wherever that is available. Our hope for the new course is that it can start to meet some of the extensive interest statewide and beyond.
Creating the course depended on many, many organizations and individuals, including Institute for Applied Ecology, the Oregon Food Bank, University Beyond Bars, University Beyond Bars, SPP staff at The Evergreen state College, Washington State Dept of Corrections leadership, and incarcerated individuals & staff at three prisons: Stafford Creek Corrections Center, Coyote Ridge Corrections Center, and Monroe Correctional Complex.

Course Intent

The course is designed to:

  • Empower incarcerated individuals to educate themselves and each other with engaging, college-level content.
  • Promote & recognize students’ academic, social, and professional skills
  • Build & support positive relationships and partnerships among incarcerated individuals, corrections staff & leadership, and outside partners.  
  • Support & improve gardening programs at the host facility
  • Increase access to fresh produce for the incarcerated population.
  • Increase access to nature & care for living things for the incarcerated population and corrections staff & leadership.

Course Structure

The course is:

  • Academic: it provides an introduction to gardening concepts & principles and eleven advanced topics. 
  • Peer-led: program partners create a plan for who will facilitate, who will clerk, and who will offer expertise on various topics. 
  • At least $40 for every student; that’s the printing cost for a 500-page coursebook and every student needs their own. SPP-Evergreen may be able to supply Washington State programs. 
  • 100+ hours of content
  • Supported by staff sponsors who track class & student completion; report completion & class feedback to SPP-Evergreen; award SPP-Evergreen certificates. Programs planned and implemented without SPP-Evergreen staff will need to develop their own certification program.  
  • Without electronic equipment needs — no powerpoints or videos included in the course.  
  • For best results, provide classroom time for group study plus garden time for hands-on practice. The classroom space may be indoor or outdoors (conditions permitting). Ideally, students have access to garden space as a group throughout the course; other approaches may work fine and will be less optimal.

To learn more & download the course pdf, use this link:

The first gardening class, at Stafford Creek Corrections Center, gathered to make plans for their program; they held their first session on August 12 and it went “very well.” Photo by Joslyn Rose Trivett.
Course editors Carly Rose and Joslyn Rose Trivett worked with incarcerated authors and editors at three Washington prisons; Stafford Creek formed a writing committee dedicated to the project. Photo by Kelly Peterson.
An especially knowledgeable gardener continued his work on the course even after moving to Coyote Ridge Corrections Center. Photo by Ricky Osborne.