Over the last 4 years the CYFAR community garden project in Scotland County has had the privilege of partnering with Noran Sanford, a passionate licensed mental health therapist, on a project that combines clinical work with innovative programming focused on sustainable food production for youth ages 14-17 who had been placed out-of-home, out-of-school and on probation.
This diverse group of nine young men (calling themselves Growing Change) has grown, harvested and donated thousands of pounds of produce from three sites in the county, started a vermicompost business, built compost bins and started beehives for two community gardens, participated in multiple public speaking engagements across the state, and were accepted into the NCFood Youth Initiative. Considering many of these youth had never been out of the county, had poor reputations and were one step away from incarceration, these accomplishments are extraordinary.
This unique partnership of NC Cooperative Extension, NCA&T State University, NC State University, Department of Public Safety, UNC-Pembroke, local agencies, citizens and the faith community is supporting growingchange.org, whose goal is to transform small closed rural prisons into sustainable farms and educational centers for youth and veterans. This model,“Flip the Prison”, has already gained national attention and will begin with an abandoned site in Wagram, NC - the same town in which the Wagram Community Garden started in 2009 as part of this project.
You can read more about Growing Change and their incredible accomplishments in this short story written by Sharon English, Family & Consumer Science Agent with Scotland County Cooperative Extension.