Thomas County Prisoners Are 'Reaping' the Benefits of Garden

By: Caroline Gonzmart Email
By: Caroline Gonzmart Email

In prisons everywhere, there's a struggle to keep ever-growing food costs down while still giving inmates nutritious meals.

The Thomas County Prison has found an effective solution to do both at once while also getting prisoners outdoors and appreciating the 'fruits of their labor.'

The prison's garden provides inmates with a variety of produce ranging from okra to watermelon.

Warden Robert Geer says the venture offsets skyrocketing grocery costs.

Says Geer, "Our cost per week is about seven thousand dollars for food service and we've dropped that to about five thousand now."

Wilmon Clark is the resident green-thumb. He's been the main man tending the produce for more than two years.

Says Clark, "I come out here everyday, pick ... pick and water.

It looks like Clark and other inmates' work is paying off. Geer says they're harvesting 18 to 20 bushels of ripe squash per week and the good stuff just keeps coming.

Geer says in addition to the nutrional value the crops hold, they also help the inmates in a different way.

Says Geer, "A lot of these inmates participated in the seeding and what they see now is overwhelming. I mean, you plant a new seed, you can start over."

Seeds and planting materials for the garden are paid for with the cash inmates spend at the prison store.

Whether it's growing lettuce to eat or turning over a different kind of leaf, many prisoners are using the garden to sow positive seeds of change.

Geer says if finances allow, he'd like to add fruit trees to the bounty in 2012.

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