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Cultivating Dreams helps build community around food inside of a women’s prison

I volunteer for a group called Cultivating Dreams. We’re a student-run, nonprofit group that goes to the California Institution for Women, a women’s prison in Corona, CA, to help run an organic garden. Twice a week, we garden alongside the women inside of the prison, harvest the food, and transport it to the prison kitchen. We’re looking to increase our yield so that the food in the garden can sustain more of the women inside, especially because the quality of the food in the prison is so dire.

More importantly, the garden helps to create a diverse community around food, gardening, work, growth and health in a place where it is most beneficial. We try to acknowledge the unique issues that surround women who end up in prison and the ways in which those social structures are often replicated inside of the prison. That way, we can figure the goings-on of the garden as a safe space, a space where we all bring something different to the table, and a space where we can all try to forge some kind of empowerment.