By John McDevitt
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Giving prisoners the seeds to succeed is the goal of an orchard program being launched at a Philadelphia correctional facility in the Holmesburg section of the city.
About 200 fruit and nut-bearing trees and bushes will be planted on two acres of land behind the Philadelphia Industrial Correction Center by summer.
The Philadelphia Prison System project will give prisoners — or, as Mayor Michael Nutter refers to them, clients — the green jobs training and skills they need to reenter society one day.
“Our clients will receive vocational training and certification in areas like landscaping and horticulture,” the mayor said at a groundbreaking ceremony today, “with the opportunity to possibly earn credit through the Community College of Philadelphia. Produce that is grown will be served throughout the prison system to promote the department’s goal of increased sustainability (and) self-sufficiency.”
The mayor says that if the orchard produces more food that can be utilized by the prison system, the extra product will be donated to food pantries and soup kitchens throughout the city.
The Philadelphia Orchard Project is partnering in the effort. It’s the nonprofit group’s 36th site and the largest orchard.