Pittsfield house of correction teaches aquaponic skills

The Berkshire County House of Correction has had something fishy going on for a while now.   

Each of the 30 towns and both cities in Berkshire County have received food from the aquaponics lab, which donates its produce to food banks, shelters, and community kitchens. More than 100,000 heads of lettuce and other vegetables have gone out into the community over the past 20 months.

"Our job is to put people back into the community a much better person when they leave than when they came in, and we do that by helping them and giving them the skills, the resources, the capability, and the skill set of staying on a positive structured lifestyle that they have inside these walls while they're incarcerated so that when they go back out, they can maintain that same positive structured lifestyle out in the community," Sheriff Thomas Bowler said.

"This program is not only beneficial for the inmate population but is also a benefit and contributes back to our community." The facility was completed in January 2020 and was funded privately through foundations, local businesses, gifts in kind, and individuals. It cost about $700,000 to build and get running. The pandemic delayed public celebration last year, so the official ribbon-cutting was held on Wednesday and the two inmates working in the greenhouse gave tours.

The idea is to give these men job skills and for them to learn to work as a team member, and instill work ethic, responsibility, and pride in what they can accomplish. The greenhouse was started up by staff and then selected inmates were given the opportunity to join the effort.

Read the complete article at www.iberkshires.com.

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