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Five urban garden programs that train inmates and help communities

Prison gardening programs teach inmates valuable skills, reduce recidivism, and provide those in need with fresh produce.

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Former inmates are employed at The Garden Project’s 12-acre organic farm, which includes a number of environmental maintenance and urban restoration projects. In addition to its career-building and counseling programs, the project also helps its employees attain their GED and attend courses at local community colleges. Food grown at the farm is donated to local food banks, helping seniors and families in local communities.

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The Garden Project in Action: By 2002, the Garden Project had employed more than 4,300 ex-prisoners and served thousands of incarcerated men and women, teaching them essential job and life skills and providing literacy courses and computer training. According to San Francisco County Sheriff Mike Hennessy, “The Garden Project is a tremendously effective crime-prevention program. It not only helps individuals rebuild their lives, but recidivism studies we’ve conducted also show that while 55 percent of our prisoners are rearrested within a year, those who go through the Garden Project have a recidivism rate of 24 percent, and that’s after two years.”

The Garden Project has expanded its assistance programs outside US borders. Since 2008, the Garden Project has helped local gardening programs in rural India by coordinating seed donations.

• Emily Gilbert is a research intern with the Nourishing the Planet project.

• To purchase "State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet" please click HERE. And to watch the one-minute book trailer, click HERE.

This article originally appeared at Nourishing the Planet, a blog published by the Worldwatch Institute.

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