Last week I met with prisoners, volunteers and partnering landscape designers at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville as part of another IGP (Insight Gardening Program) project. The facility is for inmates with medical conditions that require hospital-level care.
Similar to the project at Solano Prison, we will be working with prisoners to come up with a design for the space, then actually building it. I'm excited that I will be working with landscape architect Emily Schlickman and others from SWA Group (a design firm in the Bay Area) on the design, and as with the Solano project, I look forward to managing the installation of the garden.
Emily had the great idea to come to the session last week prepared with scaled printouts of the space as well as people (freestanding and in wheelchairs), planter beds and benches. This allowed everyone to have a role in designing the layout and tacking some initial decisions on the functions and key elements of the garden. One unique challenge to this project is that the entire space must be ADA compliant, so that people in wheelchairs can engage and participate.
As with the Solano Prison project, a challenge with this garden is creating a vibrant space that does not block the views for guards in towers. Thus, no large shrubs or trees. We are exploring the idea - exciting! - of creating an expansive wildflower meadow surrounding a gathering place. This would make the space pop with color and textures without the need for large trees or shrubs.
We are shooting for a spring installation of the garden, and will keep you posted!