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In the Garden

Bobby Bostic

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  • Akemi Kobayashi

    Thank you to Bobby Bostic..... Grace is a gift and you have found it in the garden .... or it founded you in the garden.... Nature has been my teacher too.... Thank you and blessings to you and yours

As a teenager, nineteen years old, I wondered how I had journeyed from the concrete jungle of St. Louis and ended up working in the garden inside of a prison. I signed up for garden duty just to get out of my cell at the maximum security, twenty-hour-lockdown prison where I am currently housed. But to my amazement I found the peace of mind and tranquility that I craved right here in this prison garden.

Being in prison as someone who offended society can sometimes make a person feel dirty, yet here I was in a garden picking the weeds from the dirt. I didn’t know it at first, but this simple action would come to symbolize my life. 

I had to weed through the errors of my life. In the quiet of the prison garden I was able to really think, as well as reflect. With every weed I pulled out of the garden, it felt as if I was pulling an old part of my criminal self away. Weeding in the prison garden was no longer boring to me. In fact, it became a form of therapy for me. As I sat there in the dirt I made myself many promises of how I would change my life.

While in the garden I also marveled at the many fruits and vegetables that grow in prison. I looked at the dirt and wondered how something so beautiful could grow from the dirt. Then I thought of my own life. My criminal street life was a life of doing dirt. It led me to being a sixteen-year-old who was sentenced to die in prison for robbery. I wanted to blame the world. Why me? Why did the system give me 240 years in prison for a crime in which no one was seriously injured?

Living a street life can get real hard, just like the garden when there is a drought and it does not get watered. A garden with all of its weeds can even look ugly at such a time. But when it rains and the weeds get pulled, that garden turns into one of nature’s ultimate beauties. So as I sat there in the dirt I wondered, “How could I make my troubled, dirt-filled life into something beautiful?”

 I determined right then and there that I would turn my troubled life into something beautiful.
As I kept pulling the weeds, I marveled at the beauty of the prison garden. I determined right then and there that I would turn my troubled life into something beautiful. Surrounded by hardened criminals, predators, and the vilest of men, I decided to rehabilitate myself and make my life beautiful. I wanted to produce meaning in my life like the nutritious cucumbers, watermelons, carrots and other edibles in the garden. These fruits and vegetables would feed those in need.

Then and there I made a vow to myself to feed my mind with books for mental nutrients that would help transform me into a contributing member of society. Now, nineteen years later, I am thirty-eight years old. I look at the garden from my cell and remember my vow. I am proud of my accomplishments since then. I have written fifteen nonfiction books and eight books of poetry, become a paralegal, obtained a Basic Business Studies certificate from a college, and am currently enrolled in a university to get my Associates of Science degree, among other positive accomplishments.

Like the garden that dies in the winter and revives in the springtime, I got a new life. It is time to revive myself. Recently the United States Supreme Court ruled that juveniles who were under the age of eighteen when they committed their crime couldn’t be sentenced to life in prison and that juveniles must get a new sentencing hearing. Now I have my second chance for freedom. That garden really helped me along this difficult journey. It let me know that even from the dirt something beautiful can grow. Now I look forward to the day when I get released to grow my own garden at home and continue to heal myself in the process.


A version of this article first appeared in Farming Magazine.

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