East Bay nonprofit gives former prisoners opportunities to 'plant justice'

EAST OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Nourishing communities while breaking the cycle of crime is the goal of an East Bay non-profit that has built a legacy of keeping people from returning to prison while bringing healthier choices to so-called food deserts.

Wailing sirens can't distract urban farmers from tending their crops in East Oakland.

Planting Justice grows organic produce on vacant lots, at schools, and at jails and prisons. More than farming happens here, it's healing.

"It's allowed me to give back to my community and some of the people I helped hurt," said Anthony Forrest, who is one of the former state prison inmates cultivating a new life with Planting Justice. "If you want something you never had, you have to do something you never did. Take a chance at learning how to grow your own food. It's an opportunity to feed yourself forever."

Since 2009, Planting Justice has offered living wages with benefits to people leaving prison.

"We have a zero percent recidivism rate among our staff over the past nine years," said Gavin Raders of Planting Justice.

The founders believe providing farm-fresh produce can make entire communities healthier and less violent.

"Planting Justice is dedicated to transforming the food system and creating opportunities for those who have been most impacted by food apartheid," said Raders.

The Roberts Enterprise Development Fund is helping Planting Justice build nurseries to grow organic fruit trees.

Click here to learn more about Planting Justice or to donate to their cause.
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