Dig Deep Farms – an innovative project sponsored by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Activities League – is providing jobs for former inmates, and delivering healthy fruits and vegetables to low-income residents through a community supported agriculture (CSA) program.
The enterprise, which began in 2010, is now breaking ground on a 3,200 square foot commercial kitchen. The kitchen will be used as a hub for micro-enterprises for the community, and for culinary training.
“We will take some of our produce from our urban farms and create packaged goods, such as tomato sauce, jams and a fire-roasted salsa that’s very good, that we will sell,” said Lt. Marty Neideffer of the Alameda County sheriff’s office.
The program has employed more than 40 people since it started, including Michael Silva, a former inmate who indicated he’d been in and out of jail for nearly half his life. Now, he works at the urban farm. It’s been four years since his last arrest.
“I had no farming background whatsoever,” the San Lorenzo resident said. “I like doing what I’m doing. It’s a good job. You’re working outside, making food; you can’t complain — you’re not in an office.”
Silva also is eating healthier since starting at Dig Deep.
“Last Lent I became a vegetarian,” he said.