Regenerative agriculture cultivates paying jobs and new opportunities in the East Bay

A new East Bay public-private partnership aims to help ex-con get back into the workplace, tackle local hunger and reduce global warming all at once.

Alameda County declares to be non-profit Dig deep trusses The project costs $4.8 million and will span 90 acres with the goal of launching Deep Dig Farm and ALL IN Eats.

The project creates gainful employment, produces rejuvenating food and supports local farmers.

The Sheriff’s Department originally developed this program to help recently incarcerated people reenter society with marketable skills. Now it is growing in size and scope.

“We’re getting people out of police custody now. They’re making about $23 an hour working for us and we want to have that. [as] bridge employment and, as you know, it’s easier to get a job if you have a job,” Alameda County Sheriff Gregory Ahern said.

It also provides fresh produce to county residents, especially those who are food insecure or ill.

“We make people earn their money and show them a path to restorative justice,” Sheriff Ahern said.

Regenerative farming practices capture global warming carbon from the air and put it into the soil where it doesn’t harm the environment, but is very good for food.

Carbon-rich soils produce more nutritious food, which is more resistant to pests without the need for synthetic chemicals and fertilizers. They are easier to rotate and, because they retain moisture, have greater resistance to flooding and drought.

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Hillary Bass, the heart and soul of the effort, says using environmentally friendly regenerative agriculture can also regenerate people.

“If we invest in things that people need to be healthy and happy and well and joyful and to be well connected, maybe people will make good decisions and be less likely to be caught in the wrong” , Bass said.

Martin Rodriguez worked here for four years, when it was in private hands. Now retired, he often stops to give water to workers, regardless of their origin.

“My heart goes out to those who don’t have and those who are willing to share,” Rodriguez said.

Regenerative agriculture, practiced on a large scale, is an important way to reduce greenhouse gases.

Michael A. Bynum