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A truckload of garden-fresh vegetables and fruit are grown every year by a very special group of gardeners improving their lives while giving back to our community. They’re people that live in our community, but you might not know them or see them since they’ve experienced some hardships and are now working hard to make improvements in their lives and our community, too. It’s a heavy lift.
What makes this harvest unique is that the gardeners are clients of the intensive residential drug and alcohol treatment program at Larimer County Community Corrections [LCCC] and are serving their court-ordered sentences and receiving treatment for the underlying behavioral health needs of the individuals, transitioning back into our community while mapping out a plan for their future.
Beginning in late spring and moving through the summer each year, they tend and nurture their crops as part of their treatment program. Growing quality fruit and vegetables in our Colorado climate — as anyone will tell you — is a labor of love. The work fosters a sense of perseverance, commitment and follow-through which also helps the clients as they stabilize and rebuild their lives in a positive, compassionate, and forward-looking way while they develop skills that will benefit our northern Colorado community.
While in the program, the clients live in a residential setting that lets them participate in a variety of treatment groups to address behavioral health needs, while developing a positive plan for their future. The clients have experienced how the staff at LCCC want them to succeed, for their well-being and future direction, possibly for the first time in their lives.
“Our clients see the garden intertwined with their treatment program. There is a correlation between nurturing and growing a healthy garden and learning new ways to self-care and live a healthy and productive life” said Director of Larimer County Community Corrections Tim Hand. They receive resources and services designed to address behavioral health in an intensive residential treatment program to help them become the best version of themselves and succeed as good citizens. Make no mistake: this is hard work — a journey that is often not easy, yet they’re willing to take that path to a better future.
From that experience, the clients thought the best way to help the most people — as they’ve been helped at LCCC — would be to donate their entire garden harvest to a local non-profit to reach the most in our community.
They chose Vindeket Foods, https://www.vindeketfoods.org/ a non-profit food resource that works with food producers to reduce hunger and keep wasted food out of our landfills. Three days per week visitors to Vindeket Foods can choose from a variety of excess food including fruit and vegetables donated by farmers, gardeners and local stores. There’s no cost associated with shopping at Vindeket, but donations help sustain their operations. This valued program helps reach those who need food the most to offset hunger.
During the last several years, LCCC programs have helped to benefit our Northern Colorado Community, with clients learning valuable skills that have led to jobs at landscaping companies, retail stores, and other employment after completing the programs.
To learn more about Larimer County Criminal Justice Services, Larimer County Community Corrections, Larimer County Alternative Sentencing, and their community-based services that benefit all of us in Northern Colorado, we encourage you to visit larimer.org/cjs.