By SDCN Editor
San Diego, CA–The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department has developed a new agricultural program that will train people in custody with new skills to secure employment after their release.
Fresh Start Farm Stand is part of a landscaping and gardening program at East Mesa Reentry Facility in Otay Mesa and Las Colinas Detention and Reentry Facility in Santee. People in custody learn about growing their own food, eating healthy, working in teams, and responsibility, officials said.
The Community Involved Vocational Incarcerated Crew Services Program started in 2014 to help those in custody develop skills and work habits needed for employment, and healthy family relationships.
Grossmont Adult School will provide hands-on instruction in horticulture, landscape maintenance, greenhouse operations, organic land care, hardscaping, nursery management, carpentry, woodworking, irrigation, and other green industry skill sets, as well as job readiness programs.
Community Involved Vocational Incarcerated Crew Services has partnered with County Parks and Recreation to help participants perform tasks such as landscaping, cleaning county parks, trails, canals, or ditches, clearing vegetation, and trimming hazardous trees. Seeds gathered during landscaping are cultivated in the greenhouses and replanted back into county parks.
Vegetables grown in the gardens will be used in the Sheriff’s Reentry Services job training program and the Culinary Arts Training Program.
The landscape maintenance will include creating defensible space around 51 radio towers across San Diego and Imperial Counties. This network is critical when residents make that call for help, and for first responders to communicate with each other.
Participants in the landscaping and gardening program will graduate with certifications and college credits in landscape maintenance, irrigation, landscape construction, and horticulture from the Carpenters Union, Southwestern College, and Grossmont Adult Education.
For more information on the Sheriff’s Reentry Services Division, visit www.sdsheriff.gov/reentryworks.