This week we got to visit Second Chances Farm and got an incredible tour (peep our video here!) of the vertical farm on Wilmington’s East Side. Second Chances Farm is the first indoor hydroponic farm in Delaware. They are “a for-profit solution to a non-profit problem.”
Giving Second Chances
During our interview, founder Ajit George stated, “Second Chances Farm was created for the purpose of doing two things: One is to address the problem of recidivism.”
Recidivism is defined as the tendency of an incarcerated person to commit a crime again.
George commented, “In Delaware the recidivism rate is 60-70%. So that’s one problem we wanted to address. How do we address it? By building an indoor vertical farm, a whole new concept that doesn’t exist in Delaware. We are growing plants 365 days a year that is pesticide and chemical-free.”
“By hiring people who are formerly incarcerated (we call them returning citizens) to work on our farm to produce year-round we are creating a sustainable model with the idea of creating a pathway to entrepreneurship. I like to say our best crop is that we grow a new crop of compassionate capitalists.”
We toured with Gabrielle Newton, a returning citizen who now permanently works for Second Chances. “I have never been in such a family oriented place. You know a lot of people think that you can just say, ‘Give ‘em a job, they should be fine.’ I don’t care if it’s been 2 weeks or 20 years, when you’re incarcerated at any time it affects you mentally, emotionally, spiritually, financially on every front, and a job isn’t enough.”
I was so impressed with the resources Second Chances offers their returning citizens in addition to the opportunity of work. There are programs for housing, computer literacy, spirituality, day care, and financial literacy to name a few.
How does it all work?
On January 6th, 2020, the first cohort of returning citizens started their 16 week re-entry program, where they receive an hourly wage for a 40 hour work week. At the end of the 4 months, those that qualify are offered an additional 52 week Entrepreneur-In-Residence program where they earn a set salary plus medical and other benefits.
According to Ajit there are huge plans for expansion, “Our goal is to train people here so they can become ‘Train the Trainers’ so you can go to another city with a group of 5 or so and run a program. We are expanding to growing hemp and have signed a contract to set up a farm in north Philadelphia, negotiating to set up Second Chances Farm Chicago, and in conversations for Las Vegas and South Jersey. We have a model that we think Wilmington can export and we can call this location our home, but the world is our oyster!”
How do you get your hands on this fresh produce?!
The Farm to Table home delivery program can be purchased online by any household! You can sign up for a month-long subscription to have produce like lettuce, bok choy, fresh basil, and cilantro delivered right to your door!
“We are growing locally which means less carbon footprint. The freshness of growing something within 24 hours of eating it cannot be dismissed. So the combination of meeting a need of growing locally and then the chance of people having a social impact to help someone here, it is a double win and appeals to people’s consciousness. This isn’t about charity it’s about social impact.”
Second Chances ingredients are also used at local restaurants like Le Cavalier, Bardea, Columbus Inn, and Ciro on the Riverfront. For more information on how to get involved visit Second Chances Farm on their website, Instagram, and Facebook. As always, follow my journey through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube! We will see you at the next location!