GRANTS, N.M. (KRQE) – A New Mexico prison is giving back to their community, one harvest at a time. Inmates at the Western New Mexico Correctional Facility in Grants have taken up gardening. The facility’s program is filling up a local food pantry while helping inmates in a unique way. “Life Changing…We made the best out of a bad situation,” said inmate, Gregory Lock. 

It’s a garden that gives more than just vegetables. At the Western New Mexico Correctional Facility, the prisoners that tend the garden say it gives them a chance to help their community. Everything grown gets donated to the Grants Community Pantry which helps families in need. 

“Every little bit helps because we have so many community members who can’t afford to go out and get fresh produce and so this allows them to stretch their dollars further into the community as well,” says Alice Perez, Executive Director for the Community Pantry in Gallup and Grants. 

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The Grants Community Pantry donated organic seeds to the facility earlier this year. Inmates have grown a variety of crops including squash, jalapenos, and radishes. “When we first got them, we were really excited about it, you know what I mean? Like seeing your kid for the first time, we brought them into Mrs. Mitchell and were like “oh look at this look at what we got!” said inmate, Gregory Lock. 

They’ve had three successful harvests since starting in May, with one harvest yielding 19 pounds of vegetables for the pantry. “There was a lot of times that nothing was coming through, but then, once they started coming through, it was nice to see. And now that we’re getting results out of it, it’s really nice to see,” said inmate, Bobby Dirickson. 

“Being able to get them food, fresh produce, keep them healthy, that makes you feel good,” says inmate, Patrick Meadows. 

The group was originally four members, but one man was recently released on parole. “He was very motivated, he was ready to go back into society and just show everybody what he was capable of doing and so he was extremely proud of himself,” said Classification Officer, Teresa Mitchell. 

The inmates said growing vegetables has grown their confidence and cultivated a new outlook on life. “I mean, yes we’re here. Yes we’ve made mistakes, but you can do something positive no matter where you’re at in your life,” said inmate, Gregory Lock. 

The garden club is planning fundraisers in order to get greenhouses, so they can grow crops all year round. They said for their next harvest they’ll be growing pumpkins.