Prison Farming Program Harvests Food for the Poor
Updated: Friday, July 18 2014, 11:44 AM EDT
Maryland is one of the wealthiest states in the country but one in eight families still struggle just to put food on the table.
Now, as part of the restorative justice program, a farm inside a medium security state correctional institution is farming and harvesting food for the poor. So far this year the one-acre plot has produced one ton of food.
The garden is in the center of the ECI Correctional Facility compound. Inmates can work up to eight hours in the field. The warden says the program has changed prisoner attitudes and reduced violence.
"I feel good about it," inmate Michael Neuerburg said. "It's a good thing to give back and change people's lives from here. It's a hell of a feat."
Prison Guard Officer Gary Brown says, "The ones that work in the garden I think it reforms them."
The garden is growing 20 varieties of vegetables, which all get shipped to the Seton Center just hours after being harvested. One day's harvest can result in 277 pounds of produce.
"I'm very blessed to have this opportunity to be out here all day long," Neuerburg said. "I'm not stuck in the room I'm out here in the fresh air giving back making a change for people that don't have."
Farm programs in Maryland prisons have produced 3 million pounds of food for the Maryland Food Bank in the past year.