Bradley County Juvenile Court Youth Garden
Made possible by the George R. Johnson Family Foundation
Dedication29 May 2009
Juvenile Court garden project bears fruit
Cleveland Daily Banner
Banner Staff WriterMonday, Jul 28, 2008
The Juvenile Court garden project is already bearing fruit in agricultural and adolescent achievements, according to Bradley County Juvenile Court officials.
Not only has the garden begun to produce a wide variety of vegetables in the past few weeks but the first year project at the Juvenile Center is actually teaching juveniles skills that will help them in the future.
The program, designed to introduce juveniles 13 to 18 years old to the biodiversity and ecology of farm life while promoting education, recreation, nutrition, exercise and therapy, is the brainchild of Juvenile Court Judge Daniel Swafford who said he is pleased with the program's success.
"Our garden has the potential to be one of the most beneficial projects the Juvenile Department has ever done," said Swafford. "The hope is that the children will learn a great deal from the garden experience. We are very thankful for the community support."
The vocational training, social interaction and work experience is expected to discourage aggressive adolescent behavior, reduce juvenile crime and enhance aesthetics in the neighborhood, according to Public Information Officer Billy Smith, who said he is seeing a difference in attitude and interest inside and outside the detention center.
"Everyone really seems to enjoy the garden," Smith said. "It has been a fun project for the kids and has sparked a lot of community interest."
"The kids are growing just like the plants," added Community Service Coordinator Nathan Ross. "In the end, we will all reap something from the harvest."
The court's garden sits on the northwest corner of the Juvenile Center's property and consists of eleven raised beds and fruit trees.
Currently, the Juvenile Detention Center's detainees and the courts community service workers maintain the garden by pulling weeds, watering and fertilizing the plants and picking the produce of squash, spinach, tomatoes, peppers, green beans, cabbage, onions and other vegetables.
Swafford and Smith said the fact that no tax dollars have been used on the garden project, thanks to community and local business contributions, is another testament to Bradley County's commitment to investing in the future of their young people.