Inmates learn how to garden while incarcerated at the Davidson County Jail

Posted at 5:19 PM, May 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-23 20:16:26-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Dozens of inmates are learning how to garden through a horticulture program at the Davidson County Jail.

Wearing orange jumpsuits, around a dozen inmates worked outside in the heat on Thursday as they harvested carrots.

Ronald Dye said, "Without these programs, change is not going to come. It's not going to come at all."

Inmates serving time for serious crime, are putting their time behind bars, to good use.

Dye said, "Hopefully someone will get to eat really well, vegetables are always good for ya."

Ronald Dye wants to use his new gardening skills when he gets out of jail. Malcolm Rhodes is in the same boat.

Rhodes said, "It will help me be successful, I'm ready to start over when I get out, just do something positive and give back to my community."

Rhodes said he learned a lot from taking a horticulture class while incarcerated.

Rhodes said, "We actually made a salad the other day, and we actually got to eat some of the things that we've been growing out here, and it was actually pretty good!"

Paul Mulloy, the program director for the Davidson County Sheriff's Department, hopes the training will help keep dozens of inmates out of trouble.

Mulloy said, "It also lets these guys know they can contribute to the community, as opposed to taking away from the community."

Over the last couple years, they've donated around 2,000 pounds of produce to the Second Harvest Food Bank.

There's also a second garden by the jail where select inmates can learn about arboriculture.

Mulloy said, "We try to reach out to landscape companies to get their attention to what we're doing, and so they can basically cherry pick people who really understand what they're doing."

Through local partnerships, the seeds and trees are usually donated. Some of the seedlings are replanted by the Cumberland River to help reduce flooding. They're also used to fill in areas where trees have been torn down due to construction.

As the sun beat down, Rhodes said he can see a brighter future ahead.

Rhodes said, "I feel like anything I can do to help me, or better my situation, I'm all for it."

Mulloy said the program has been active for 5 years, and he hopes to expand it in the future.