TIME justice

California Prison Farm-to-Table Program May Help Keep Inmates Fed and Free

Inside The Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility As California Readies $793 Million Prison Expansion Bond
An inmate walks through the yard at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego on March 26, 2014. Sam Hodgson—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Aside from feeding the prison population, the program aims to give participants a lower prison re-entry rate

Inmates at California prisons may soon be able to grow and serve their own food, in one of the most practical applications of the farm-to-table sustenance craze that has swept the foodie world.

A Farm and Rehabilitation Meals program is being launched at San Diego’s Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility, reports the Huffington Post.

Provided prison health authorities grant approval, prisoners will be hired as farmers and instructed in sustainable agricultural practices. Their produce will be served in the prison cafeteria. If the program is successful, more institutions may soon follow suit.

“Within those spaces we’re going to teach community gardening, composting and water-wise gardening,” said Wehtahnah Tucker, the program’s coordinator and a California Correctional Health Care Services executive. “We’re purchasing a cistern, using gray water and capturing rainwater for use.”

The initial rollout, accommodating 20 inmate-farmers, will cost just $4,000, which will be funded by private donations. The hope is that participants will have a radically lower prison re-entry rate, which in California currently averages 61%.

“We wanted to create more opportunities for inmates to have a more meaningful experience while they’re here,” she said, “so when they leave, they cannot come back.”

[Huffington Post]

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