Garden planted by recovering addicts to benefit seniors

If weather and Mother Nature cooperate, participants at the Danville-Boyle County Senior Citizens Center will have farm fresh vegetables to eat this year.

The garden, on a plot of land owned by the center, is the handiwork of Chad Richards, an inmate at the Boyle County Detention Center, and Daniel Short and Branson Hartman, clients at the Shepherd’s House on Third Street in Danville.

“It’s win-win,” said Brian Wofford, chief deputy of the Boyle County Detention Center. “It’s a chance for these guys to give back to the community, and it goes to the seniors. It’s good for them to serve others, since the community is offering them the opportunity to receive treatment.”

Ben Guerrant, director of the Danville-Boyle County Senior Citizens Center, said they are excited about the potential for the vegetables.

“I’m excited about it on a lot of different levels,” he said.

For starters, Guerrant said, it’s a way for the seniors to eat farm fresh vegetables while at the center. It’s also a way for the seniors to have fresh vegetables for their home without jeopardizing their budgets.

“I think it’s really neat that our seniors can essentially grocery shop on site and get what they need to go home and fix a meal. They can save on other things, like prescriptions,” he said. “For a lot, if they have to choose between filling a prescription or filling a plate — they will fill a plate because they’re hungry. Now they can use that money in other ways.”

“A lot of our seniors are on a fixed income. Those decisions, while harsh, are a reality.”

But one of the most exciting reasons, he said, echoing Wofford, is that it allows the center to partner with the Boyle County Detention Center and with the clients at the Shepherd’s House, allowing those individuals to give back to their community.

Last year, the seniors attempted to grow plants in small raised beds behind the center, Guerrant said. After hearing about it at a Boyle County Fiscal Court meeting, Jailer Barry Harmon approached Guerrant to see if they could help. 

Then, Guerrant said, with the forming of the Shepherd’s House, it was a natural progression to bring those individuals on board.

And the men helping plant the garden said they were grateful for the chance.

“It’s good to get out and give back,” said Short. “It’s good to know people out there are willing to give people a second chance.”

Short planted cucumbers in the garden before helping finish a row of greens.

He was joined by Hartman, who was planting and watering the cucumber plants.

“It’s good feeling being part of the community and not being a negative part of it,” Hartman said.

He said having been a part of the intensive outpatient program at the Shepherd’s House was a very humbling experience for him, and he was grateful for the support he’s received while there.

“I’ve enjoyed it — I really have. You get support while you deal with the stressors of life,” Hartman said.

He also serves at a food pantry in the county.

By Wednesday’s end, the men, along with Richards, had planted the garden full of squash, tomatoes, green beans, greens, cucumbers, watermelon, cantaloupe, eggplants, okra, banana peppers and green peppers. Other clients of the Shepherd’s House will help take care of the garden as well.

“I think it’s fantastic — it was a small idea that turned into a great big idea,” said Guerrant. “It’s going to be a huge benefit.”

Kendra Peek/kendra.peek@amnews.com
Daniel Short from the Shepherd’s House Intensive Outpatient facility plants cucumbers, while in the background Capt Chad Holderman helps Chad Richards, inmate at the Boyle County Detention Center, line up his row.

Kendra Peek/kendra.peek@amnews.com
Daniel Short and Bronson Hartman from the Shepherd’s House Intensive Outpatient facility plant cucumbers in a garden outside the Boyle County Senior Citizens Center. The participants at the facility, along with certain inmates at the Boyle County Detention Center, will care for the garden and the produce will go to members at the senior center.

Kendra Peek/kendra.peek@amnews.com
Daniel Short from the Shepherd’s House Intensive Outpatient facility plants cucumbers in a garden outside the Boyle County Senior Citizens Center. The participants at the facility, along with certain inmates at the Boyle County Detention Center, will care for the garden and the produce will go to members at the senior center.

Kendra Peek/kendra.peek@amnews.com
Bronson Hartman from the Shepherd’s House Intensive Outpatient facility waters cucumber plants, while in the background Chad Richards, inmate at the Boyle County Detention Center, digs his row.