While volunteering with incarcerated youth at a juvenile detention center in Warrenville, Illinois, Isabella Wallmow, 20, came to realize that the youth needed healing, not punishment. After learning about the holistic, community-oriented approach of permaculture agriculture in 2018, she had an idea: set up a gardening program.
With support from the Resiliency Institute, which uses permaculture design to transform suburban communities, as well as enthusiastic detention center staff, Isabella launched the Seeds for Change Garden Program in 2019.
Seeds for Change creates a safe, healing space for incarcerated youth, and equips them with marketable skills. The program puts their voices, visions, and dreams at the forefront of running the garden, and allows the young people to experience every aspect of the gardening experience, from choosing what to plant, to planting and watering seeds, to harvesting and consuming fresh produce. In the process, the program helps address food insecurity and provides youth with valuable health education.