State of Maryland
Department of Public Safety & Correctional Services
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A Farm- to- Food Bank Milestone: Inmate Labor Harvests One Million Pounds of Produce
TOWSON, MD (September 16, 2013)---The landmark DPSCS effort to have inmates pay society back by harvesting produce for local food banks has reached a milestone. Inmates have now helped to harvest more than one million pounds of fruits and vegetables on both sides of the Chesapeake Bay.
The farm-to-food bank effort began two summers ago with a simple idea: to have low-security pre-release center inmates glean local farmers’ fields, with the produce headed to the Maryland Food Bank and its affiliates. Participating farmers loved the idea of setting aside some of their bounty for the poor and struggling.
For two summers, inmates from Eastern Shore pre-release facilities operated by DPSCS and those from Southern Maryland Pre-release Unit near Charlotte Hall have worked nearly every weekday on farms to help harvest everything from watermelons to potatoes.
Today, DPSCS Secretary Gary Maynard joined MD Food Bank leaders at Serenity Farm on the west bank of the Patuxent River at Benedict to celebrate the milestone. Serenity Farm is home to the Farming for Hunger effort put together by local businessman Bernie Fowler, Jr. that serves Capital area and Southern MD food pantries.
The inmate crews are part of the expansive and highly successful DPSCS Public Safety Works restorative justice initiative, which daily has 300 or more low-security inmates performing meaningful projects across the state that pay society back for their crimes---often in the very communities the men will soon be returning to. Public Safety Works helps cities, towns, and non-profits accomplish things that could not be done otherwise. In the past four years, the initiative has included inmates helping towns recover from hurricanes and flooding; planting more than one million trees; restoring woods, orchard, and a barn at Antietam National Battlefield; rebuilding neglected parks, playgrounds, and running tracks; and many other things.
Serenity Farm’s 2013 harvest is expected to top out at more than 1.5 million pounds, meaning that by later this fall, inmates will actually have had a hand in harvesting over two million pounds of food.