Signs of spring in February

Strawberries

This week we spent the entire class outside in the garden looking for signs of spring, talking and enjoying the light.  We planned for things ordered and walked the perimeter of the Boston Pre Release Center looking at an unusual February and all it had to offer. Usually we are still covered in snow this time of year.

Catmint

Primula

Montauk Daisies

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Ordered our potential harvest today

I ordered our potential harvest for the on site garden at the Boston Pre Release Center. So many wonderful things …. flower and vegetable seeds, seedlings, bulbs, tubers and bare roots.  Here is a list of but a few: tomatoes, potatoes, onions, garlic, peppers, carrots, brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, lettuce, cucumbers, squash, roses, salvia, dahlias, zinnias, peonies, cosmos and more.

We will start from seed in March or April and plant bulbs and others as the ground provides warmth.  We want to grow enough for the men to enjoy and enough to give away to visitors and perhaps to the local food initiative.

I took this picture (as well as the header above) from THE STANDARD CYCLOPEDIA OF HORTICULTURE, by L. H. Bailey, published in 1927.  It inspired me to try potatoes in the garden for the first time.  The caption reads, “Men at harvest in the potato country.”

What would Olmsted do?

In preparation for our guest speaker this week I showed the men the Olmsted Legacy: America’s Urban Parks video.  National Park Ranger Alan Banks comes in every few months to tell the men about the history of the Emerald Necklace Parks.

I then give the men a resume that illustrates the work they have done in the parks as a way to provide them the language to use when they go to apply for a job.  I want them to see how relevant their work is, how important the parks are as well as how transferable their acquired skills are to a life beyond prison.

Olmsted created the Emerald Necklace parks to keep nature in the city, as an antidote to the artificiality of urban life and to provide physical and psychological health to all.

I often wish I could meet Olmsted and ask him how he would work with these men and how best to inspire them.

Farmer Jim


This week we had a guest speaker.  Jim Buckel from Allandale Farm in Brookline, MA comes in each winter when there is a lull in the gardening season.  He is the farm manager there.  Allandale Farm was originally an early 18th century King’s land grant comprising 1,000 acres.  It continues to be a thriving farm 300 years later.

The students love to listen to Jim.  He is easy going, very down to earth and loves gardening, farming, food, bees, flowers, cows, pigs, chickens and people…. he is very unassuming and super smart as well because he runs such a successful historic farm at a profit.  I think the men benefit from talking to Jim since he is so gentle, eager to listen and learn and really thinks outside the box in a supportive, organic and community minded way.

Thanks Jim for coming into the Boston Pre Release Center again this winter.