San Francisco, CA

Volunteers wanted for maintaining gardens on Alcatraz

D.J. Eaton
The gardens on Alcatraz were once tended by prison inmates.Photo byMarkus LauffonUnsplash

Volunteers are wanted for maintaining historic gardens on Alcatraz Island. Volunteers will be involved with weeding, pruning, planting, composting and seed collecting on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 8:00 a.m. to noon.

Those wishing to volunteer should be able to lift 10-20 pounds and carry out work on uneven terrain. Details on how to prepare for work in the gardens can be downloaded from the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. Volunteers must register online for a day to work.

Alcatraz was home to a fort and a military prison before being used as a maximum security federal prison from 1934 to 1963. The island is now a National Historic Landmark and part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which is run by the National Park Service. The island can be accessed from San Francisco by ferry. A ticket from Alcatraz City Cruises includes an audio tour of the cellhouse.

"The Alcatraz Gardens Stewardship Program aims to preserve the historic gardens once tended by the island’s military and penitentiary residents. For more than a century, gardens were an important part of everyday life for officers, families, and prisoners confined to Alcatraz by sentence or duty," recalled the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy.

Volunteers are also needed to serve as tour guides. Volunteer docents must commit themselves to two shifts a month for a year. Those interested in becoming a docent should contact Shelagh Fritz at

There are also opportunities to do volunteer work at San Francisco's Black Point Historic Gardens.

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