Course Trains Prisoners as Agricultural Entrepreneurs

Illinois Farmer Today reported on a course being offered at Vienna Correctional Center that teaches inmates about horticulture and small-farm management, equipping them to become agricultural entrepreneurs once released. The course was developed by a University of Illinois Extension educator under a USDA grant. Following classroom instruction, the students develop plans for their own 600-square-foot gardening plots. They choose a farm name and consider marketing ideas, as well as predicting yields. During the growing season, inmates plant seed (some locally donated) and see whether they can match their predicted yields. Harvested produce is used by the prison in meal preparation. Course organizers hope the project will help give prisoners viable job skills and contribute to local food production.