Add farming to the list of character-building programs to be undertaken by residents of the new Maine Coastal Regional Reentry Center.

On May 4, the Waldo County commissioners voted to lease a five-acre plot of farmland in Swanville to start a community garden. Some residents of the re-entry center would work the land as part of their pre-release curriculum, growing fresh produce that Commissioner William Shorey said could supplement the provisions at the re-entry center and possibly provide fresh food to local food pantries.

Shorey said the collaboration between the re-entry center and the county has been in the works for two months and has been something he personally has wanted to do since he was elected a year and a half ago.

The five-acre lot will cost the county $500 per year. Shorey said the re-entry center residents will begin with a one-acre section, with the possibility of adding one acre to the garden per year for the next four years.

Shorey estimated that the one-acre plot could produce $12,000 worth of produce in a year. However, selling the vegetables, he said, would amount to using tax dollars to compete with private growers. Instead, the food will be used to replace some canned foods currently in use at the re-entry center, with any extra food going to local food pantries.

“We’re really excited. It’s just one of those deals that’s just a great deal for everyone,” he said.