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Seeds of Change: Court Garden Takes Root by Mona Shand

s of Change: Court Garden Takes Root

Mona Shand

 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Most gardeners can vouch for the therapeutic benefits of digging in the dirt, and so can some participants in Kansas City’s drug, mental-health and veterans’ treatment courts, thanks to a special program that’s planting seeds of recovery.

The garden, where offenders and court officials work side by side, came from a desire to offer court participants a healthy outlet, said Nancy Leazer, president of the nonprofit Friends of Kansas City Problem-Solving Courts.

“There’s really nothing like gardening to give you that,” she said, “to watch something you tend do what it’s supposed to be doing, and to give you some beauty and nutrition.”

The court has two plots in Freeway Gardens, part of Kansas City Community Gardens. Leazer said some offenders volunteer to work in the garden while going through their programs, while others have received a light sanction requiring them to garden. Leazer said gardening helps connect the court participants with the earth, and gives them the sort of engaging and productive experience many have never had.

“There are a lot of things that they can be doing that are healthy and have a lot of benefits, and are really a lot of fun, and yield long-term benefits as opposed to just short-term,” she said.

This is the second year for the court’s garden, which doubled in size this year because of its popularity. Gardeners now are growing tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, cucumbers, basil, lettuce and other vegetables.

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