Growing Justice is designed to tackle two problems at once: the striking lack of fresh, healthy food in prison and in the lower income communities most incarcerated people come from and return to – problems documented in our 2020 report Eating Behind Bars – and high unemployment rates among formerly incarcerated people.
We’re partnering with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and also with Skout Strategy and Agritecture, two leading advisory firms on controlled environment agriculture, to develop an indoor (aka vertical) farm on the grounds of Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla, California. Using shipping containers outfitted with irrigation systems and grow lights, this farm will produce nutrient-rich leafy greens to supplement meals at the prison and also function as a job training site as incarcerated women receive six months of training and learn to run the farm, work for which they will be paid.
High unemployment rates among formerly incarcerated people stem from the lack of targeted job training programs in prison and persistent employment discrimination—structural problems that disproportionately impact people of color and perpetuate cycles of inequality and injustice in America.
The pilot prison-based farm is expected to become the first of several indoor farms and allied job training sites in California. Indeed, we’re raising funds to build a nonprofit indoor farm at our Oakland office, a project we’re also undertaking in partnership with Skout Strategy. It will offer entry-level job training to formerly incarcerated residents of Oakland who did not have access to Growing Justice where they were incarcerated, provide full-time employment to some graduates of Growing Justice, and expand access to fresh food in Oakland with a focus on lower income communities.
To link training with employment in a rapidly expanding industry expected to be valued at $155.6 billion dollars globally by 2026, Growing Justice is partnering with some of the largest controlled environment agriculture companies across the United States, an expanding list that includes Bowery Farming, Fork Farms, and Square Roots. Our CEA partners, including Agritecture and Skout, are committed to working with Growing Justice graduates to connect them to job opportunities in the indoor farming sector. We’re also partnering with Honest Jobs to help companies fully welcome and successfully on-board new employees with a history of incarceration.
Our network of partners and supporters is growing. Please contact us if you’d like to join!