The greenhouses at the former Guilford County Prison Farm used to be a popular attraction where people from mainly from Guilford and Alamance counties came to buy plants, garden objects and even patio furniture.

The Guilford County Board of Commissioners shut down the Prison Farm about a decade ago – however, this week, an announcement out of Guilford County government showed that there’s still plenty of life in the old greenhouses that used to be manned by inmates.

The Guilford County Board of Commissioners announced that it intends, –  at its regular Thursday, March 16 meeting ­– to authorize the lease of the property to Brothers Excelling with Self-Sufficiency to Thrive (BEST) for the next five years. If approved, this will be the renewal of an existing lease with BEST.

BEST is a non-denominational organization that attempts to “provide creative, holistic strategies, with strong Biblical principles as its foundation, to construct a defense that identifies, attacks, and destroys problems, and the issues that surface from problems, that plague our young men of color, while developing the total man.”

The group’s organizers believe that, as a whole, society has “dropped the ball” with regard to ensuring the success and well- being of young men. So BEST is attempting to “aggressively recapture and reclaim” those young men and free them from predetermined destiny by encouraging them to explore their full potential as “productive, contributing members of society.”

One way to do that is to focus their efforts on nurturing life of the plant variety.

This coming lease arrangement is in keeping with the purpose of the Prison Farm: helping people get on and stay on a good life course.  Former longtime Sheriff BJ Barnes was always proud of the fact that the Prison Farm was a place where inmates could benefit from fresh air and learn marketable job skills while in the county’s custody.

Two greenhouses at the old Prison Farm – now known as the Guilford County Farm – will be used by the group for an lease payment of $2,400 a year.