Inmates Go from Big House to Greenhouse on Rikers Island

The Horticultural Society of New York hired a project coordinator a horticultural program that provides education, counseling, job training, and transitional employment to New York City inmates.

The Horticultural Society of New York has worked with inmates at the Rikers Island prison in New York City since 1986, teaching basic work skills through a small horticulture and nursery operation and performing landscaping around the prison's greenhouse. Inmates spend time in the greenhouse classroom, learning principles of botany, soil, and natural science.

Key Results

  • The coordinator provided educational, vocational, and therapeutic services to 45 women and 60 men.

  • When inmates were ready for release, the coordinator placed calls around the city in an effort to find job opportunities in horticulture.

  • Project inmates designed six new gardens at the prison; warehoused, catalogued, and distributed more than 50,000 bulbs to schools, libraries, and community gardens; and produced more than 5,000 vegetable, herb, and perennial seedlings that were either planted for consumption on Rikers Island or distributed to horticultural society school and library programs.