Kennebec’s Restorative Community Harvest
The Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office is committed to supporting the community in Central Maine. Kennebec’s Restorative Community Harvest program provides meaningful agricultural skills to the inmates participating in the Public Works Project (Title 30-A §1606) while contributing fresh and healthy produce to those families in need.
The primary objective of Kennebec’s Restorative Community Harvest, formerly known as the Inmate Garden Project, is to provide fresh and healthy produce for those in need in Kennebec County and the surrounding area who might not otherwise have access. Additionally, it provides inmates working on the program with the hands on training, skills and the work ethic needed to ensure successful crop production and the opportunity to make a valuable contribution within their communities. Lastly, a portion of the harvest will serve to augment the diets of inmates within the facility.
The program was initiated over 17 years ago at the urging of then-Deputy Liberty and has provided a rewarding experience to all of those involved during that period. The gardens, located throughout Kennebec County and beyond, have provided tons of produce for those in need and our goal in 2011 is for a bountiful harvest of over 75,000 lbs. We have developed a partnership with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension to assist us with the technical support required for continued success. Our crop yield will assist the Cooperative Extension achieving its stated objective of 250,000 pound of produce for the Harvest for Hunger program. We are collaborating with the Maine Department of Corrections, Central Maine Pre-Release Center to meet our shared goals and utilize our manpower resources for those purposes.
Our future expansion goal is to continue this valuable program and make needed adjustments to improve our production to maximize our capacity and economies of scale. This goal will be best achieved in the consolidation of our efforts and the acquisition of a lease for a large tract of tillable land, twenty to forty acres in size, for development. The Sheriff’s Office is currently in negotiations with the Maine Department of Conservation, Bureau of Parks and Lands for such a property.
All plans are being designed with interested stakeholders involved utilizing current best practices. Various governmental agencies will be utilized to develop the property in a thoughtful and sustainable manner. Funding will be raised through both governmental and private grants.
Partnerships, many of which have already been formed and new ones being developed, will ensure that this program remains relevant and sustainable for many years to come.