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Five urban garden programs that train inmates and help communities

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Brian Snyder/Reuters/File

(Read caption) A worker carries freshly harvested zucchini and squash at an urban garden run by The Food Project in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, Mass. Vegetable gardens are growing inside prison walls, too, providing training for inmates and food for the needy.

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In 2008, the Pew Center on the States reported that Vermont, Michigan, Oregon, Connecticut, and Delaware spent more on prisons than higher education, and the ratio of prison to education spending was increasing. 

Prisons receive billions of dollars each year in government funding, yet national recidivism rates continue to hover at around 66 percent. Following the economic recession, budgets have been slashed, forcing penitentiaries and post-release programs to cut spending.

Considered nonessential and expensive, garden programs are often the first to be cut, yet they have proven to be successful in not only reducing recidivism rates and improving rehabilitation, but also providing fresh healthy food to inmates and surrounding communities.

Today, Nourishing the Planet presents five innovative programs around the country that are proof of what gardening programs can accomplish.

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