Investing in Youth
The Juvenile Hall garden is not a rehabilitation panacea but rather a sophisticated plant- and insect-based program that combines hands-on gardening with life lessons about teamwork, responsibility, kinship with insects and other animals and nurturing (plants, other species and each other) and because of that, it is a program that promises to reduce recidivism.
–Joanne Hobbs, Catalyst for Youth Director
Plants have the power to change lives. Research has shown a simple but profound therapeutic aspect to working in a garden. Plants also play a basic role in providing clean air and serve as a nutritious basis for healthy living. And they are a uniquely effective teaching tool that brings environmental issues alive while fostering community spirit in those who garden together. Catalyst for Youth is working to kindle and sustain the essential connection between young people, plants, and the environment through gardening and a plant based education program at Santa Clara County’s Juvenile Hall.
Catalyst for Youth’s plant based initiative connects at risk youth to gardening and its benefits in five core fields: plant-based education, health and wellness, environmental stewardship, plants and art, and home gardening.
Catalyst for Youth’s Juvenile Hall garden program gives incarcerated youth knowledge in science, literacy, social studies, nutrition, the environment, art, and personal skill areas such as leadership, problem-solving, and team building.
Health and Wellness
The satisfying experiences of planting, cultivating, and harvesting fruits and vegetables can create a lifelong appreciation for healthy living. Our plant-based resources address health concerns such as poor nutrition and inactivity and we help the youth establish links between plants, gardening, food, and health.
Gardens are a microcosm of the environment. Working with water, native plants, and creating a habitat-friendly garden is a portal for understanding concepts and issues in environmental education. Catalyst for Youth’s plant-based activities at Juvenile Hall foster environmental stewardship by providing the resources, knowledge base, and tools to help these young people realize their interconnectedness with the environment.
Catalyst for Youth’s plant-based education activities at Juvenile Hall promote respect and stewardship for insects and other animals. By learning about the interdependence between insects and other garden creatures and plants, these youth discover their role as co-creator and move beyond cultural biases. Plus activities that focus on the life cycle of butterflies, the role of worms in creating soil and composting and the participation of other garden creatures has given these urban bound youth a feel for the beauty and complexity of the animal kingdom.
Catalyst for Youth’s plant education activities also include a strong art component to engage the imagination of the student and cultivate an appreciation for beauty in the plant world. The garden will be created according to a design initiated by the youth involved and guided by a volunteer landscape architect. Plant centered art projects will also include painting riverstones, painting with vegetables, creating art with gourds, photographing the life cycle of a plant from seed to harvest, reading indigenous stories about people and plants and creative writing and journaling to foster literacy and self expression.
Catalyst for Youth encourages released minors to create home gardens with the help of siblings and parents. Incentives and resources will be provided to those who create flower or vegetable gardens.
Catalyst for Youth began the gardening program on April 7, 2007