Jackson County Drug Court creates a “Garden of Hope” for the community

JACKSON COUNTY, Ala. –  Jackson County is feeding people in need through the county’s Garden of Hope.

“Well, we plant it and it’s for the community to come pick,” said Heather Strickland, a drug court participant.  It started as a project for Jackson County Drug Court participants, but the garden is now providing to an entire community.

“I’m a master gardener,” said Mark Boyanton with the Jackson County Drug Court. “Master gardeners of Alabama require 50 hours of community service, so I thought I could teach gardening skills.”

Created by the Jackson County Drug Court, the goal of the garden is to provide a hobby for those going through their drug program.

“As Judge Graham always says, idle hands is the devil’s workshop,” said drug court coordinator Wendy Trott. “So if they’re not staying busy, they need to stay busy.”

Depending on the season, the team goes out to plant a variety of vegetables and flowers.

“We planted cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, and okra,” said Strickland.

Three years ago the garden only had four beds, and now gardeners manage over a dozen. It started as a way to promote a healthier and more productive lifestyle amongst drug court participants.

“The drug court participants here, many of them didn’t have a parent to teach them those skills,” said Boyanton.

Now, they’re giving back to the community by helping those people that need the extra food.  Whether it’s instilling hope to the people taking care of it or making those needing food a little more hopeful, the county says they’re excited to keep this garden going.

Again, the Garden of Hope is free for anyone in the community.