The Juvenile Probation Garden was established in 1993 has recently completed the 2011 growing season, marking eighteen years of service to the community. The project allows for younger juveniles to work community service and fulfill restitution obligations or complete contracts which have been set forth by the Juvenile Court. In addition to utilizing county funding, the project also coordinates efforts through The Pennsylvania State University’s master gardener program. The master gardeners work along side of the juveniles providing guidance and supervision during hours of operation. This year’s crop yielded a variety of vegetables including:
Crops yielded from the garden project are either donated to the Greater Berks Food Bank or sold from the Earthrise Snack Shop located on the second floor of the Berks County Services Center. Profits generated from the sales are funneled back into the program and used to update equipment and purchase miscellaneous supplies. Overall, the project is an integral component of the Juvenile Probation Office as it allows for juvenile offenders to work within their community and develop a positive work ethic along the way.
In an attempt to encompass more of the community into the project, the Juvenile Probation Garden program has recruited students from the Berks Career and Technology Center (East Campus) have graciously volunteered to assist in the process by planting seedlings for the normally purchased vegetable plants. This process will not only reduce the initial costs of the yearly project, but will also allow the horticulture students to witness their efforts flourish into maturing plants and yielded crops. The students, who are Future Farmers of America (FFA) members, have recently seeded broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage plants while varieties of peppers and tomatoes will be started in the near future. The Juvenile Probation Office would like to thank the participating students of the Berks Career and Technology Center (East Campus) as well as their horticulture instructor, Mr. Joseph Nawoczenski.
For the 2011 growing season, the Juvenile Probation Community Garden participants worked 574.5 hours of community service and donated 422 pounds of produce to the Greater Berks County Food Bank.
If you would like any further information regarding the garden project, please contact the Berks County Juvenile Probation Office at (610) 478-3200 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.