Baton Rouge, La. – Southern University Ag Center Agriculture and Natural Resources Agents Ahmad Robertson, Sr. and DeLane Ross held a gardening workshop for women incarcerated at the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women (L.C. I. W.) in St. Gabriel, LA on Dec. 11, 2015.
During the workshop, Robertson, an area agent in St. Helena Parish, facilitated a presentation on ‘Backyard Fruit Production.’ This presentation provided the facility’s trustees with knowledge on proper planting methods, pruning, diseases, pest control, conventional and organic growing practices, variety selection and cultural tips for specific fruits grown in Southeast Louisiana.
Ross, who is an agent for St. Martin and Iberia Parishes, gave a presentation on ‘Improving Soil Health to Improve Plant Health,’ which helped to foster the knowledge and science of maintaining soil and its direct effect on plant health.
Participants were excited to learn about the types of fruits they were able to grow within the institution’s current landscape. They were also intrigued to learn the vital importance of balancing soil nutrients along with maintaining a proper pH to produce optimum growing conditions.
Most of the participants stated that they will put the knowledge and skills learned from the prison’s horticulture program to use once they leave L.C.I.W. Many said they believe the hands-on trainings and certifications received from their horticulture class will enable them to find employment in the landscaping and greenhouse industry.
The SU Ag Center will continue to provide horticultural programs for incarcerated adults and youth in an effort to offer science, education, job training, conservation projects, and sustainable operations to corrections facilities across Louisiana.
This workshop was made possible through a partnership with Willie Sims, a Baton Rouge Community College Horticulture Instructor who works within the incarcerated trustee communities.
(Article written by Ahmad Robertson, Sr., SU Ag Center Area Agent for St. Helena Parish.)