On Belonging in Outdoor Spaces: Erika Rumbley

On Belonging in Outdoor Spaces: Erika Rumbley


Wednesday, March 13, 2024    
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

Event Type

The On Belonging Speaker Series continues. A free virtual series on access, inclusion, and connection in nature. Learn more and register here:  https://www.onbelongingoutdoors.org/

Erika Rumbley is a Co-Founder and Director of The New Garden Society (TNGS), an organization dedicated to training incarcerated students in the art and science of plants. For over a decade, she has gardened alongside students in Greater Boston prison yards on Monday afternoons. Beyond TNGS, Erika serves as the Director of Horticulture at The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. She works with a team of 7 horticulturists to care for the Gardner’s living collection and create perpetually blooming displays in the art museum’s central atrium. A greenhouse grower by trade, Erika is passionate about broadening access to the gifts of the garden and the skills for ecologically sound growing.

A Decade of Tending Greater Boston Prison Yards

Gardens return immense gifts to us as gardeners- from skill building and nourishment to cultural connection and stress relief. And yet due to logistical constraints, gardens are a uniquely difficult intervention in prisons, our most opaque, harmful public institutions. Since 2013, The New Garden Society has gardened alongside nearly 1000 incarcerated and detained students in Greater-Boston. In prisons, prison hospitals and youth facilities, our students are 13- 80 years old. Every week in prison classrooms, we teach core horticulture concepts. In prison gardens and greenhouses, students apply these concepts, find healing and build job skills.  In this talk, Co-Founder Erika Rumbley will share stories and insights from a decade growing shoulder to shoulder with incarcerated growers. How can gardens behind prison walls transform landscapes, institutional cultures and vocational possibilities for our incarcerated neighbors? How can we continue to build a more inclusive local green industry for our neighbors returning home from prison or jail?

Hosted by Farrington Nature Linc, Lincoln Land Conservation Trust, The Walden Woods Project, Mass Audubon, and Codman Community Farms. 

With generous sponsorship by The Ogden Codman Trust and Freedom’s Way National Heritage Area

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