Thousands of pounds of vegetables are being sent to food banks and soup kitchens around the state and are coming from a Connecticut prison.
“We have a seeding machine that goes behind the tractor and we install all these products from seed,” inmate Dustin Brown said.
Gardening for hours in the heat is a welcome escape for Brown.
The field sits a short distance away from the barbed wire fences of the Cybulski Reintegration Center in Enfield, a prison that houses more than 500 men.
“It's about hard work,” Food Service Manager for Department of Correction David Roston said. “You have to make the right decision, and if you're making an easy choice, it's usually the wrong decision.”
Brown is one of five inmates who spends months caring for 12 acres. The inmates cultivate the field, which produced organic vegetables from tomatoes to zucchini to corn.
“Everything here is basically, it has been new to me,” inmate Adrian Hasell said. “I've learned a lot of things since I've been inside of here, and we really take pride in what we do."
The inmates said this experience is about so much more than just gardening. They told Eyewitness News there is such satisfaction in knowing the food goes to charity.
“Just to experience it when we bring it to them, they're facial expressions alone,” Brown said. “They don't even have to say anything, it's very satisfying."
“Just seeing the faces of some of the people that we give to, it's an honor,” Hasell said.
Both admit they have a rough past, but they said the program has given them faith in a brighter future and the desire to help others along the way.
“I made a lot of bad choices,” Hasell said. “And I'm grateful for where I am now."
“If you can just help out the next person, the response you get from them is so gratifying that once you've tried it I don't think that you would stop helping people,” Brown said.
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