Vernon's Story: Working with Planting Justice


I first heard about Planting Justice while inside San Quentin.  I read about a 90 day Insight Garden Program class to learn about gardening, with the prospect of getting hired by Planting Justice upon parole at $17.50 per hour.  Most folks were very doubtful, but I decided to give it a ago ... and it was true. When I paroled in April of 2012, I was able to start work with Planting Justice on my birthday, May 1st.  I got to know some of the Planting Justice staff, and went on my first job with Or and Quincy.  After attending a two week training at Rubicon I got help getting my ID and license.


I felt welcomed at Planting Justice.  It was a family setting.  I knew a little about planting and had some limited skills with tools.

Gardening skills and unity on the team continues to get stronger as we build more and more gardens.  Nowadays - I can build a garden by myself.  I can sheet mulch, build redwood raised vegetable beds, plant them up, install automatic irrigation system.  I know a lot about individual types of veggies and trees and how to care for them.  I'm learning more about the design process: I can imagine what a garden will look like five to ten years down the road after we install it.  "It's more than a 'job' for me.  It feels like I'm working with my family."

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I'm physically stronger and Planting Justice has helped me with my communication skills.  I enjoy weekly yoga with the team.  I've been able to meet other organizations and people in the movement.  Planting Justice is a big part of my life ... it has kept me out of trouble. It's part of my identity ... I tell everyone about my work and that I'm making $20 per hour at this point.  When I got out, my friends that had been out of jail told me how hard it was going to be in the streets... that there wasn't any work.  I was lucky enough to have a job when I came out, and I can't even imagine what their experience was like... or how it would have been for me without my relationship with Planting Justice.

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I got married on December 3rd, 2012 and was proud to be able to pay for the wedding.  In January 2013, we found out that my wife had cancer.  I've had a lot of support from my co-workers in dealing with this situation.  She is now going through chemotherapy.  Even though she's tired all the time, its working and the cancer is going away.

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I'm excited for the future.  I'm looking forward to working out on the Planting Justice farm in El Sobrante.  I'm gonna be around for a while - they are going to have to roll me away from Planting Justice on a wheelchair.

Vernon Dailey