Spotlight on Jail Industries
Bill Klausing, SCMG
Certainly all Sonoma County Master Gardeners, plus a wide swath of Sonoma County residents are very familiar with the annual spring and fall plant sales held at Jail Industries. But a little further homework illuminates the terrific asset that exists here in our local neighborhood, and underscores the appropriate round of applause that should be given to Rick Stern, the steward of Jail Industries. Now celebrating its 20th anniversary, Jail Industries is a joint venture between the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department and the County Office of Education. It provides vocational and practical education for low risk inmates at the North County Detention Facility, including basics of horticulture, landscaping, and propagation. Also taught are the development of career skills which will help ensure success for the inmates post incarceration. This program is really a one-of-a-kind venture, and its continued success can be credited to Rick.
His continued support to the Sonoma County Master Gardeners allows us to have a permanent home for our propagation work. All of the plants generated for the plant sale at our biennial Bloomin' Backyards Garden Tour begin their lives here at Jail Industries. Three acres of vegetables are also grown and harvested on the property for direct use in the kitchens at the detention facility--excess produce is given to local charities and food banks. Jail Industries has propagated and provided nearly 100,000 free trees in the past two decades for use in public areas: schools, parks, local and regional governments.
It can't be put more succinctly than in Mr. Stern's own words: "Jail Industries helps the community, helps the inmates, and will soon be self-sustainable". Please come out on the sale dates, acquire some new drought resistant plants, and pay it forward to the community.