The Resiliency Institute is excited to expand our Growing Food Security program by working together with Created for More Ministries on an inspiring "Seeds for Change" Permaculture Garden project at the Illinois Youth Detention Center in Warrenville, IL!
Wheaton College student, Isabella Wallmow, approached The Resiliency Institute about her idea for the project after seeing our Ferry Forest Garden as she passed it on her way to and from volunteering with her Juvenile Justice Ministry at the youth prison, which is right down the street from the garden on Ferry Rd. in Warrenville. Isabella, with a passion for social justice and a new student of permaculture where, "the problem is the solution," brilliantly identified how the youth at the facility are commonly viewed as unwanted products in our society which if given proper support and direction can easily become valuable resources. We happily jumped on board and the “Seeds for Change” Illinois Youth Center Permaculture Garden Project was born!
Permaculture Design is about systems thinking, integration, and closing loops, so one of the goals of the garden is to include all the systems of the youth center, from the faculty and administrators, to the counselors, to the guards, volunteers, culinary staff, maintenance, visiting families, and the incarcerated youth themselves, so they can all enjoy time in the garden and experience the mental and physical benefits that come with time spent in the outdoors. We plan to include therapeutic and sensory plants, soothing and uplifting herbs, native plants and plants for pollinators, and of course lots of edible, highly nutritious, nurturing food plants in the garden for all who enjoy use of the space. There is an existing gazebo and cookout area in the space that will stay, and we’d love to create an outdoor classroom space to be used for school classes as well as meditation and mindfulness sessions, nature therapy, yoga and more.
One of our favorite times was when clearing out a muddy area and one of the youth was happily relishing his discovery of worms buried in the debris and causing the rest of the youth to scream and recoil in horror--but only for a short while! After explaining the significance of worms to our food supply, it only took a few minutes for ALL of those in attendance to begin gleefully "rescuing" the worms from the clearing to the raised garden beds from The Growing Works Project last year which we had all just replanted.
The Permaculture garden project not only offers opportunity for learning life skills, job skills, hobbies, nature connection, community connection, and the increased health, independence and food security that comes with growing our own food, but it also offers the opportunity for all involved to learn some Permaculture principles and be inspired by discovering how we can apply them to all areas of our lives, including successful transitions upon completion of time served. Some of the guiding principles of the project that we can apply to our everyday lives in addition to using in the gardening project are:
*Use small and slow solutions
*Apply self-regulation and accept feedback
*Produce no waste (the problem is the solution)
*Use and value diversity
*Use edges and value the marginal
*Creatively use and respond to change
Learn more about the Seeds for Change Permaculture Garden Project and its many potential benefits that Isabella shares in this video. If you’re as excited as we are to support this beneficial project, please consider making a tax-deductible donation toward the project HERE, and reach out to us or subscribe to our email newsletters for project updates and to watch for future opportunities to support programming in the garden. We are grateful to be part of this work and we appreciate your support for the project, the changes it can inspire in our youth, and the changes they can make in our communities and our future!