By Jacqueline Quynh

(CBS4) – A farmer’s market run by former inmates in Fort Collins is not only teaching valuable skills but helping to give back to the community. The Larimer County Community Corrections Farmers’ Market program is part of an intensive 90-day residential drug and alcohol treatment designed to ready people back to the workforce after serving time. Residents learn how to grow produce as well as how to sell it, and the proceeds benefit several charities. Last year the market raised $1,000.

Larimer County Community Corrections Farmers' Market

(credit: CBS)

“There’s a lot of dead things in my life that need to be removed, just like plants have dead leaves and weeds around them that need to be pulled,” Nick Geister said.

Geister is 36.

“I first started doing drugs around the age of 13, I started with marijuana, then escalated to heroin, I used opiates for almost 20 years,” he said.

His struggles have gotten him in trouble with the law more than once, but this is the first time he’s in this program.

“Something is different this time and I really think it’s that willingness,” he explained.

(credit: CBS)

That willingness he says comes from learning skills at the community corrections garden.

“Unfortunately we only made $13.”

Not a lot of money was made last week, but the payoff comes in other ways. Joe Weilnau helps oversee the program.

“It also helps to get them job training once they get out of our program and back into the workforce,” Weilnau said.

Larimer County Community Corrections Farmers' Market

(credit: CBS)

He told CBS4 that a felony record makes it hard for many who have served jail time to find a job as well as a place to live. This program prepares residents to have patience, and to keep working at it.

“We’re willing to put in the elbow grease, willing to gain the sunburns to pull the weeds.”

For Geister, this has been an experience unlike any other in the past. And this time he’s optimistic he’ll succeed.

“This time I feel the change is within me.”

The Larimer Community Corrections Farmer’s Market runs on Fridays from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Bath Garden Center.

Jacqueline Quynh

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