TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Plenty of rain throughout the months of March and April helped the Travis County Correctional Complex enjoy a bountiful May harvest from its vegetable garden.
The garden serves as a way for the community to eat healthy vegetables, but also allows inmate workers to earn manual labor credits toward early release.
As part of the program, workers plant, weed and harvest.
Over the past couple of months, Travis County Sheriff’s Office employees also volunteered for two-hour shifts in the garden.
All-in-all, the harvest brought in 303 pounds of carrots, 82 pounds of garden tomatoes, 41 pounds of cherry tomatoes, 33 pounds of Swiss chard and 22 pounds of jalapenos.
Produce from TCSO’s garden is also donated to the Central Texas Food Bank.
The mental health benefits of gardening
According to Dr. Seth J. Gillihan, gardening offers several emotional benefits, including:
- Practicing acceptance — The unpredictable nature of whether or not a garden will turn out allows the gardener to cope with accepting what can be controlled and letting go of the rest
- Moving beyond perfectionism — “No matter how carefully you plan and execute your garden, there are countless factors you can’t predict—invasions by bugs, inclement weather, hungry rodents,” Gillihan says.
- Connecting to your world — Gillihan says many people feel a visceral connection to the nature and the world when they eat food they have harvested themselves
- Physical exercise — Gardening offers many opportunities for varied forms of exercise
- Healthier diet — Studies show that dietary changes can be an effective treatment for depression — in addition to overall health