Inmates grow and harvest food for those in need

Inmates serving the last months of their sentences help harvest the 75,000 pounds of food grown at the Maine Coastal Reentry Center Garden in Swanville.

SWANVILLE, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- It's fall and that means harvest time. Potatoes, Squash, Pumpkins, they're all ready to be picked. A garden in Swanville is harvesting thousands of pounds worth of vegetables thanks to a unique group of farmers.

It's called the Maine Coastal Reentry Center Garden and around 7 workers man the 65-acre farm at a time. What makes them unique is that they're all inmates serving the last months of their sentences at the center in Swanville. Most of them serving time for drug charges, like Harrison Dutil-Taylor of Augusta.

"Last year in December we lost five friends in the Augusta area. Three of them within two days," said Dutil-Taylor. "189 overdoses this year all ready and the winter only gets worse"

The land for the garden was purchased 7 years ago for around $100.000. It was Waldo County Commissioner Bill Shorey's idea to use the land to help inmates learn skills that would benefit them outside of incarceration. The 75,000 pounds of food harvested this year all goes to food pantries, soup kitchens, churches and other organizations in Waldo County.

"I wanted to develop a program to do something for these people," said Shorey. "Give them a better opportunity to phase back into society and also a chance to volunteer to help someone else out."

Last year inmates contributed around 2,000 hours of community service to the Reentry Center Garden, which equals more than $16,000 in labor.

Copyright 2016 WCSH


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