Serenity in the Garden – A Local Pilot-Study Utilizing Applied Qualitative Sociology to Improve Social, Environmental, and Food Justice for Incarcerated Women and Their Communities

How to Apply

Interested in participating in this research project? Contact the professor or graduate student listed below.


Dr. Daniela Jauk, Assistant Professor (Department of Criminal Justice & Department of Sociology) |

Graduate Student

Sierra Berry (Undergraduate, Anthropology)

Project Description

The aim of this local pilot-study is to further develop and qualitatively assess an educational gardening program for incarcerated women in Northeast Ohio. This is part of a larger project that started in Spring of 2019 and will continue until 2021. I initiated this garden program together with the community partner Oriana House, Inc. (OHI). The proposed project will help us better understand the impact of horticulture in a community correction setting and contribute to slowly emerging evidence on gardening in correctional settings (Ascencio 2018). The research proposal innovatively utilizes qualitative research to bridge the fields of criminal justice, social justice and ecological justice: Incarcerated women will gain urban gardening skills to reduce their stress in the facility and increase food sovereignty for their families and communities of origin. The overarching research question is: “(How) Can an educational horticultural program in a community correction setting benefit female clients and their communities?” I will pursue ethnographic observation during the gardening lessons as well as conduct qualitative interviews when women graduate from the garden program (n=20). A special feature of this project is incentivized follow up interviews with participants after approximately one year after finishing the garden program. I am interested in long term effects of the program and if and how gardening skills might transfer to home communities to address potential food insecurity. This is a community-based project in the tradition of applied sociology that will establish the University of Akron as a reliable community partner in corrections research. It directly addresses existing needs and bridges the gap between academe and community while improving conditions of incarceration. This local case study is part of a larger research program on gardening in carceral settings with national research partners and will allow me to work towards becoming a national expert on prison horticulture.

Project Dates

March 2020 – December 2021

Search Terms

Sociology, Sustainability, Criminal Justice, Funded