Greenfingers the Movie: Inmates Learn How to Garden

Real-life rehabilitation programs for prison inmates learning how to garden inspire a new movie starring Clive Owen.
By K.C. Compton
August/September 2001
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“Greenfingers” will strike a chord with anyone who has experienced gardening’s restorative qualities.

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“Who loves a garden still his Eden keeps. Perennial pleasures plant — and wholesome harvest reaps” — Amos Bronson Alcott 

Those of us who have spent quality time among the peonies, petunias and peppers can attest to gardening’s capacity to connect us with simple values: hard work, humility and a ridiculous sense of accomplishment when things go well.

These earthy values are now being incorporated in prison rehabilitation programs in the United States and the United Kingdom. Designed to train inmates in employment skills as well as teach them life lessons, programs such as the San Francisco Bay Area’s Garden Project report re-arrest statistics less than half those of traditional programs.

The real-life gardening exploits of one such group of British prisoners provide the inspiration for a movie being released this summer by Fireworks Pictures. Greenfingers features Clive Owen and David Kelly as two inmates who dig as deeply into their own souls as into the soil and thereby reap that “wholesome harvest” of which Alcott wrote.

The film features the obligatory romance between Owen’s character and an oh-so-proper young woman whose master-gardener mother fails to appreciate the inmate digging her daughter as much as her dirt. The film is a heart-warming, feel-good antidote to the mayhem often splattered across the summer screen, and is certain to strike a chord with viewers who have also experienced gardening’s restorative qualities. So if you need to get away from those weeds for a while, you might take refuge in a movie theater and be assured that Greenfingers will suit your sensibilities.

If such programs as the one in Greenfingers create beautiful gardens while providing rehabilitation for inmates, so much the better. Gardens trump license plates any day.

K.C. Compton is senior editor at MOTHER EARTH NEWS, and formerly was Editor in Chief of our sister publications, The Herb Companion and GRIT. A huge fan of the food chain, from molecules to meals on the table, K.C. is passionate about the idea that most of what we need to be healthy can be found in the garden. Find her on .

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