US (NC): Nonprofit teaches prisoners how to grow food with aquaponics behind bars

A local nonprofit is teaching prisoners aquaculture by growing food and fish in a self-contained system. A recent report by the North Carolina Sentencing and Policy Advisory Commission shows nearly half of inmates end up back behind bars within two years The nonprofit, 100 Gardens, said their mission to take the process of aquaponics and turn it to fresh food and future careers.

“We can teach through food, whether it be the growing of it or cooking it or selling it or marketing it. It is who we are as a species, it defines who we are. Agriculture is what took us from hunter gatherers to a civilized society," said Sam Fleming, with 100 Gardens.

It's not just prisons they’re introducing aquaponics to. Fleming said they have gardens in at least 19 schools, and the goal is to get to 100. Aquaponics is an entire food production system that uses fish farming to provide nutrients to grow vegetables.

"The plants use up that fertilizer, cleaning the water back for the fish, and this is how we get the re-use of water over and over again," Fleming said. Fleming and his business partners built their first prototype in a backyard. Just two months later, as they were working with the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, they began teaching aquaponics in prisons.


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