Linda Langelo, Extension
CSU Extension conducts outreach to all demographics, including those incarcerated in the Yuma County Jail. Linda Langelo, CSU Golden Plains Extension Horticulture Program Associate, contacted the jail’s Programs Coordinator, Laurie Clemons, about the possibility of inmates caring for the community gardens. After approval from the sheriff’s department, several inmates were cleared to begin the initial planning and planting. Golden Plains Extension provided curriculum and support for the gardens and Master Gardener certification. Langelo has worked for Extension for 10 years, this being the first year for the inmates to assume responsibility for the gardens. Working in the garden has benefitted the inmates and the community in many ways. Beyond earning their Master Gardener’s certification and obtaining job skills that could translate into a career after leaving the jail, inmates have additionally learned positive decision making skills and have experienced less depression. Recidivism rates are also hoped to decrease. The (literal) fruits of the inmates’ labor are incorporated into the facility’s kitchen, thus reducing some costs of feeding inmates and staff while also increasing nutritional quality of the meals. The jail extends the impact of this program by donating any unused produce to the community food pantry. Langelo credits the success of this project to the willingness of the county jail to allow inmates to participate, as well as a community willingness to try something new. She hopes to expand this project to allow more inmates to “find their place and purpose in life while doing useful and purposeful service.” Golden Plains Extension is planting the seeds for access to nutritious food both inside and outside the Yuma County Jail. For more information about this project, please read the article posted on Extension’s CO-Horts blog (http://csuhort.blogspot.com/) or the article featured in The Yuma Pioneer (link found on the Yuma County Sheriff’s website, http://www.yumacountysheriff.net/jail-garden-featured-in-yuma-pioneer/). Information about other events and projects lead by Golden Plains Area Extension office can be found at http://goldenplains.colostate.edu/.