Correctional Facility Inmates Help the Parks Bloom

Many of the flowers you see in the northwestern state parks are the product of a surprising source, the flower program at the Northwest State Correctional Facility. This women-only facility operates a flower program as part of their rehabilitation, which supplies some of Vermont State Parks with beautiful blooms. John Cross, the automotive teacher at the Community High School located in the prison, has helped to run the program for six years, though it was his son, Paul, who first thought of the idea. Paul, on staff at Grand Isle State Park, put his father's gardening program and the park's need for low-budget plants together, essentially creating the program that exists today.

The parks appreciate the local flower supply and cost savings, and the women in the program learn about and enjoy growing plants from seed. Plus, they get to do gardening before the snow has fully melted! John believes that in order for the participants to succeed in their rehabilitation, they need to feel that they are a part of society. This program gives the women a way to give back. And, once they leave, they can see the flowers they grew, blooming in Vermont State Parks.

The program usually has five or six participants. Amazingly, this small group produces thousands of flowers that are used on the correctional facility property as well as beyond the parks in the town of St. Albans.

The flowers are distributed across the Northwestern State Parks each spring. When you visit Kill Kare, Grand Isle, Knight Point, Burton Island, Lake Carmi, or Sand Bar State Parks this upcoming season, make sure you stop and smell the flowers!

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