Female inmates at the Montana Women’s Prison are doing some gardening. Community Relations Manager Annamae Siegfried-Derrick explains who is teaching these inmates and what they are learning.

“They are being trained by Sharon Wetsch who is a master gardener 3,” said Seigfried-Derrick. “She is actually coming in to our prison to teach master gardener curriculum to our inmates. She is teaching them how to sow seeds, water, care, fertilize, and then plant until they are replanted in the fall on BLM land.”

The inmates have harvest food for the prison for a while, but now sage brush is filling up the extra space. The end goal is to replant the brush in areas to increase habitat for the endangered Sage Grouse.

“Basically we are trying to reestablish native plants on those burned out land and by growing the sage brush we are essentially just giving it a jump start once it goes out in the community,” Seigfried-Derrick said. “We are saving some natural processing time by doing this project.”

MWP inmates sowed 25,000 sagebrush seeds in April and will care for the plants over the summer season. If there are enough guards available and women still in the program, they may even participate in planting the brush on BLM land when it matures.