S.C. inmates grow trees for nonprofit groups

By J. Kasko
Florence, SC (October 17, 2009)- The South Carolina Department of Corrections handed out nearly 3,000 trees Wednesday to public entities and nonprofit groups across the state. The trees were grown and cared for by inmates at the Kershaw and Turbeville Correctional Institutions.

This is the fifth year of the Fall Tree Grant program, which partners the DOC with PalmettoPride, the state’s anti-litter and beautification program. The spokesman, Josh Gelinas, said the DOC operates horticulture programs at 16 institutions and the Broad River Complex. The DOC said on its Web site, “The Horticulture Services Branch provides meaningful, productive job opportunities for the inmate population by teaching the vocation of Horticulture.”
Gelinas said inmates are “completely involved” in caring for the trees. “We have managers, horticulturists, at each institution that basically manages them and tells them what to do and in the process educates them on what they’re doing. So, they’re planting the seedling, they’re nurturing it, and that includes water, sunlight and the proper amount of fertilizer.”
The DOC uses grant money from PalmettoPride to purchase seedlings, which are cared for until they reach a height of roughly 6-feet tall before being donated. PalmettoPride Program Manager Sherryl Jenkins said 58 organizations, including cities, counties, schools, churches and homeowner associations, requested to receive trees.
This year, 17 types of trees were available and grown using S.C. native growing guidelines. “We had a lot of Crepe Myrtles, Dogwood and River Birch (varieties),” Jenkins said. Jenkins said recipients of the trees must follow planting and maintenance guidelines and agree to participate in the Great American Cleanup, an event that promotes public beautification and runs from March through May.
Some of the municipalities that picked up trees from the DOC’s horticulture depot in Columbia included the cities of Florence, Myrtle Beach, and Greenville. Jenkins said Fort Jackson also requested trees from the program and plans to use them at the fort’s next Arbor Day event.
Related Resources:
WBTW News 13- S.C. inmates grow trees for nonprofit groups