Wayside Farm School is an intensive, sustainable, agriculture education program operated by Five Keys Schools and Programs under contract with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.
The Farm School rests west of the Castaic Hills along Castaic Creek, just north of the majestic 10,000 foot San Gabriel Mountains and the Santa Clara River. Farming on as much as 200 acres of fertile, sandy loam dotted with century old oaks, it is not uncommon to see a dozen student-workers pushing seeders, laying drip tape or forming beds with an old John Deere tractor.
The program trains inmates in all aspects of sustainable farming through the hands-on operation of a diversified vegetable, fruit and herb farm. In addition, the farm raises laying chickens, grows hay and makes 40 cubic yards of compost every month out of food and landscape waste generated by the expansive facility. Currently there are approximately 12 acres in food production and an additional 40 acres in hay or cover crops.
This cutting edge school operates beyond organically, and direct markets all of its products throughout Los Angeles County including the more than 1,800 employees who work at Pitchess Detention Center in Castaic, CA.—Home to Wayside Farm School. Much of the Farm School’s produce goes into jail kitchens, and provides food for the farm school and other vocational team events, creating a strong farm-to-fork environment.
At this time, Wayside Farm School is developing the first-of-its kind, Employee Supported Agriculture program based on a traditional CSA model. Wayside Farm School is not an inmate work program, it is a training ground for the next generation of Southern California Farmer.
The Five Keys Sustainable Agriculture Education Program is designed to provide a full-immersion experience, encouraging students to explore cultural diversity, philosophical perspectives, and farming as a means to personal, family, community and financial wellness. Although place-based to meet the specific needs of Wayside Farm, our curriculum is derived from generations of practical farming wisdom and emerging practices impacting the future of the industry.
Inmates who complete all of the required educational components, and demonstrate competency in core employability skills, will be eligible for a post-incarceration
planning program to assist them with career path options upon release.