Award #51: The Family Farm

Awesome Pittsburgh trustees were immediately drawn to Josh Inklovich’s pilot project The Family Farm due to its very personal nature. Fifteen years ago, someone offered Josh a job after he was released from prison and for the past decade, he has worked to “pay it forward.” Upon realizing how unprepared many former inmates are to enter the workforce, Josh began thinking about how gardening, diet, and meditation changed his life and how his own “lessons learned” could help prepare fellow former prisoners to find meaning in their work and relationships. He quit his job in 2014, booked a soul-searching trip to the Peruvian jungle, then returned to the U.S. ready to make a career out of teaching people to breathe, farm, and eat in order to change their lives.

The Family Farm has been established on the property of Healcrest Farm in Garfield and will serve a pilot for future therapeutic farming ventures. The farm, which plants in June, hosts parent-child teams comprised of parents returning from incarceration and the child(ren) left behind. Over the course of a growing season, duos work together to learn, grow produce, cook, eat, and heal together.

At Healcrest, Josh will work to convert an organic herb farm into a workforce development/training space for those exiting prison. The plan is to grow pre-contracted, organic, high value items for local chefs, an organic juice company, farmers’ markets, and to pursue other pathways to sustainability. Observes Josh, “Pittsburgh will definitely become more awesome if a parent doesn’t return to prison and a child never has to go. $130,000 each year is saved when a parent/child combo are not incarcerated.”

Awesome Pittsburgh trustee Matt Gaston was impressed by the project’s scope: “This farm is one component of a larger mindfulness/urban agriculture/prison re-entry/workforce development project which will be implemented by local service organizations, communities, and employers–the end goals of which are successful community membership and gainful employment. We wish them well moving forward.”