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Rikers Island inmates garden to feed city, find hope

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RIKERS ISLAND (PIX11) – In the garden at Rikers Island, inmates like Donald Woodbury and Judith Randazzo try to forget they’re serving time.

“This kind of you know, helps me escape that reality,” said Randazzo.

It’s hard to miss the wire or the constant supervision that looms, but there is a place on Rikers island where everyday more than 20 inmates garden and grow food. It’s a partnership with the Horticultural Society of New York. It is part therapy and part schooling.

“There are inmates here who learn about horticulture,” said Department of Corrections Commissioner, Dora Schiro.

City sentenced inmates can participate. Some told PIX11 it keeps them from going down a bad road.

This is an evidence based program, an extremely cost effective program, this is an important way to be both smart and tough about preparing a population to go back to the community,” said Schriro.

Much of the harvest is donated to the City Harvest program that helps stock NYC soup kitchens and food pantries.

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