“I have grown as a person over the last 15 months, and I know doing this has helped me gain a lot of knowledge, not just about gardening but about myself,” says Jim*, a participant in our Garden Pathways program. “I’m understanding strengths that I’ve always had but never really knew how strong they were.”

Jesuit Community College, in partnership with the Department of Justice and Community Safety, runs the program to support men who are in contact with the justice system. Through it, participants serve their community work hours by growing produce that will be donated to local food relief programs.

“I now know more about my strengths, abilities and goals. I’m exploring my career and expanding my options,” reflects Steve* – another man engaged with the project.

In this way, participants acquire practical horticultural skills; they also build the skills that will help them find employment, boost their self-confidence, and open paths to further education, training and job opportunities.

The men engage in communal activities such as food production and garden maintenance. The program helps them feel comfortable socialising with other people and speaking in front of groups. They resonate, too, with the knowledge of feeling productive and involved in a project bigger than themselves. In one year, participants grew and donated over $5,000 worth of fresh veggies.

I know sometimes it’s particularly hard for men to make new friendships as adults. I’ve got participants here together for six hours a day, tending to the garden together, and I see them developing really nice and respectful relationships.


Program Trainer

Josephine, Community Partnerships Manager at Jesuit Community College, says that the garden aims to nurture an inclusive, non-judgemental and safe environment that will encourage participants to continue to develop the skills to help them find employment after finishing this program.

“We’ve designed the program to encourage participant learning and bypass negative past experiences of education. We don’t do any formal educational assessments and there are no prerequisites to be a part of this program.”

Garden Pathways provides opportunities for participants to overcome past obstacles, and to find their way to take positive, new directions.

I’m planning to get a job and get back on my feet again. I’m using better people skills, optimism, positivity, and patience.


program participant

* We changed Jim and Steve’s names to protect their identities.