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DOC’s Prison Medicine Garden Staff Provide Guidance to DCYF to Develop Program at Correctional Youth Facility

May 18, 2022

By Rochelle Stephens Department of Corrections
Growing starter lavender plants in small pots

Before planting the lavender in the garden, individuals grow them as starts in small pots first. (Photo courtesy of DOC Staff)

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WALLA WALLA - In recent past, the Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC) announced a new program to grow indigenous medicines within prison facilities. The program started at the Washington State Penitentiary (WSP) in Walla Walla and expanded to several facilities since.

Now the Penitentiary is guiding other state agencies as they work towards implementing Indigenous Medicine Gardens across the state. In May of 2022, representatives from the Department of Children Youth and Families (DCYF) visited the Penitentiary for tips on growing their own Indigenous Medicine Garden.

In recent years and with the collaboration of Gabe Galanda, Indigenous Rights Attorney and Francis Cullooyah, Culture Director of the Kalispel Tribe, the Washington State Penitentiary’s Sustainable Practices Lab has a well-established Indigenous Medicine Garden helping to bring Indigenous people closer to their cultural roots, honor their sacred traditions, and develop a positive relationship between the Department of Corrections, and the religious needs of incarcerated individuals in their care and custody. Together, and with the support of HUY, a tribal non-profit corporation, DOC offers guidance and starter plants for the establishment of Canyon View Community Facility’s Indigenous Medicine Garden in Wenatchee, Washington. DCYF Medical Liaison Harry Akers along with DCYF Representative Craig Kent visited WSP to gain firsthand knowledge on how to make their Indigenous Medicine Garden a success and gain helpful tips on the growth and harvest processes for medicinal plants such as sweet grass, lavender, and sage.

In addition to the topic of Indigenous Medicine Gardens, there was further discussion around other tribal-driven activities at the Penitentiary that support prosocial behaviors such as building drums, and the artwork that is created.

“Indigenous medicine gardens are a great opportunity to educate the young men in our facility about cultural backgrounds, learn more about teamwork as well as inspiring interest in prosocial activities such as gardening,” said Community Facility Administrator Toefuatiana Taai.

Visit the Sustainability & Environmental Performance page for more information.