Sunday, May 3, 2009

Thomas County Prison Vegetable Garden Project

Thomas County Extension Agent R.J. Byrne and Thomas County Prison Warden Robert Greer have started a vegetable garden at the Thomas County Prison.
Byrne and the Thomas County Master Gardeners will work with the Warden and the inmates to grow and harvest vegetables at the prison garden to reduce prison food costs and help teach inmates a new skill. Goals of this pilot project include helping to reduce food costs and expanding the size of the garden in future years.

Inmates grow their veggies in Thomasville

By Christian Jennings -

THOMASVILLE, GA (WALB) - Thomas county inmates have a new horticulture detail...their new vegetable garden on prison property off County Farm Road needs people to tend it.

That garden could end up saving tens of thousands of dollars in food costs.

It's not your typical garden. Here farmers are replaced with inmates and they're growing vegetables they'll eat at the prison dinner table.

"Today we're starting the planting," said RJ Byrne.

Thomas County extension agent RJ Byrne and Warden Robert Greer came up with the idea as a unique way to cope with rising food costs.

"On a weekly basis we spend about $5,000 for a week of food supply and of that probably $1000 or more in vegetables, in produce and we invested probably less than $1000 in this project," said Warden Greer.

Here's an example of how much the prison will save. One kernel of corn produces three ears of corn. And the warden only paid ten dollars for a four pound bag.

Now compare that with what you pay at the farmer's market. Here corn is two for a dollar.

"We're going to grow corn, squash, tomatoes, beans, peppers, okra, and cucumbers," said Byrne.

But the soon to be colorful, delicious vegetables will benefit more than just you, the taxpayer. They'll provide inmates with a new skill to take with them when they leave their cell.

"They're really interested in the garden and a lot of them are already volunteering to be on a permanent detail for this," said the Warden.

"It's going to save money and these guys are going to be able to watch these grow and eat the reward," said Byrne.

But until then, these inmates are just planting seeds of saving.

The inmate's garden is just a pilot project right now.

The warden and extension agents will show the garden and the cost savings to county commissioners soon and hope to expand the garden with their support.

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