When Blue Jacket took over occupancy of the Anthony Wayne Services building at 2826 South Calhoun Street in March 2012, we gratefully inherited 38 raised garden beds. In an effort to restore and capitalize on this precious asset, Blue Jacket staff, graduates, and volunteers have been working tirelessly to cultivate the garden in order to produce a harvest of vegetables and flowers by the summer of 2012.
Receiving volunteer oversight and guidance from Purdue University Master Gardner Juanita LaHurreau, the garden is managed by Blue Jacket Alumni Relations Specialist Jennifer Crickmore. Staff and volunteers maintain the garden, putting in countless hours each week in order to offer a market to the public during the summer months. Excess harvest is either sold to nearby restaurants in the 46807 corridor or donated to local homeless shelters.
Providing opportunities for hope, development, and growth.
The urban garden serves many purposes for Blue Jacket. The garden is utilized as an in-class project, allowing clients to obtain hands-on work to demonstrate their preparedness for the labor force. While working in the garden, ex-offenders are presented with a sense of commitment and purpose that helps to illustrate a common theme repeated throughout the Career Academy: the importance of putting forth TIME AND EFFORT in order to gain back trust.
The garden also serves as a means by which Blue Jacket graduates can stay connected after they complete the Career Academy. Graduates can return to Blue Jacket to volunteer their time in the gardens while also fulfilling community service obligations required by the criminal justice system. An ex-offender who is productive and working is much less likely to prevent another crime and return to prison.
In addition to the internal benefits, the Blue Jacket urban garden will ultimately benefit the entire surrounding Fort Wayne community. The once empty garden beds are now filled with a variety of fresh blooming flowers and colorful array of vegetables, providing an attractive and organic backdrop to an otherwise urban landscape.
Blue Jacket aims to use this summer as a foundation by which we can cultivate and develop our urban garden so that our harvest can be sold at low costs to the community. Surrounding residents now have an accessible venue from which they can buy healthy, natural produce at an affordable price. Healthy food choices at affordable prices will ultimately equate to a healthier and more resourceful community.
Visit our Urban Garden Market
Blue Jacket hosts a public market during the week at Blue Jacket, outside in the gazebo. Come check out our variety of fresh vegetables and cut flowers at affordable prices, all while supporting our important mission. For updates on our market, you can also visit our Facebook page.
Proceeds of the Urban Garden Market will directly fund the wages of the Alumni Specialist. This position serves to provide mentoring services to Blue Jacket graduates, connecting them with positive supports and activities in the community. The goal of mentoring is to keep graduates on track to becoming productive members of society, thus lowering the likelihood of a return to prison.