The therapeutic benefits of digging in the dirt are well known, and for many people gardening offers a fruitful sense of accomplishment.
That’s why the Kansas City Municipal Court should be commended for its community garden, where offenders in the city’s drug, mental health and veterans’ treatment courts can work side by side with court officials — even judges. “This particular garden is exciting,” said Ben Sharda, longtime executive director of Kansas City Community Gardens.
The court’s garden — begun last year — is one of more than 240 community gardens throughout Kansas City, sprouting vegetables and herbs. Gardening connects offenders with the soil and gives them an engaging and productive activity.
“It’s healthy, it’s organic — all of those positive reinforcing things are together,” Sharda said. “There’s something magical about working with your hands.”
The garden in Freeway Park at 14th Street and Indiana Avenue is in good company. Many state and federal prisons have gardens, and Kansas City’s old Municipal Farm used gardening as a rehabilitation tool for prisoners. It’s healthy, relieves anxiety and stress, and puts people outdoors working with others doing something worthwhile for the community.
Best of all, the gardeners get to enjoy the fruits of their labor — healthy food.