Ali RosenSep 29, 2017, 6:02 pmSep 30, 2017, 6:39 am

Westchester Jail farming program benefits both inmates and hungry

Produce and fruit grown by inmates is donated to Food Bank of Westchester

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There is a group of farmers Valhalla who grow thousands of pounds of food each year for the Food Bank of Westchester. But these are no ordinary agriculture experts. They are inmates at Westchester County Jail.

Doug Decandia is the food growing program coordinator who works with a dozen inmates to help grow food at their on-site garden.

“Supporting the land, supporting the plants to fulfill themselves to their fullest potential and I see that is the same for people you know, and we need the space and the opportunity to realize our full potential and this is a space where I think those two things can be realized at once,” Decandia says.

“It's absolutely a great break from the day, you know. Makes the day go by a lot faster and it’s nice to know that we're helping out, you know, people who need it more than us,” says one inmate.

Inmates grow everything from corn to tomatoes, peppers and onions. The inmates produce two to three thousand pounds of food a year, most of which is donated to the Food Bank of Westchester, but the rest they get to keep for themselves.

“Which is good, ‘cause weget like natural fruits and vegetables, which I think we really need… Actually when I get home, yeah, I really want to start gardening. I think it’s like good for your mind, it like takes your mind off of a lot of the stuff that’s going on,” says another inmate who works in the program

On Friday, Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino thanked Doug Decandia and the inmates for their commitment to gardening and giving back.

“We appreciate the fruit of your labor and so do other people who probably won't be able to say thank you to you. The people who are actually going to eat this. The people who are hungry in Westchester,” Executive Astorino says.

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