SHIAWASSEE COUNTY (WJRT) - (6/27/2018) - Not long ago, there was a large empty plot of land near the jail. That's been tilled and planted with beats, onions, carrots, sweet corn and a variety of other produce.
Inmates and volunteers gathered their first harvest this week, just a couple months after it was planted. Inmates helped cook the first meal using beets and broccoli grown outside their cells.
"I tried a little bit, it wasn't bad, wasn't bad," said Sheriff Brian BeGole.
Carrots and onions will be the next crops harvested.
The program not only offsets cost at the jail, it also gives inmates new opportunities.
"Past years we've spent over $50,000 just on the vegetables to feed the inmates," BeGole said. "In addition to that, it's something that they like to do. They get out of the jail and for those that don't have it already it gives them some work ethic."
Garden manager Dan McMaster has gardening for more than 50 years and said this is one of the best he's ever seen
"It's amazing to see how the plants grow, the beets especially. They have been a great crop this year," McMaster said.
BeGole said only certain inmates are allowed to work in the garden and he's already seen outstanding results.
"When they are able to see a process start to finish, I do think it gives them a sense of achievement. So they enjoy it much more than picking up garbage on the roadside," he said.
Begole said this wasn't just an effort by them, but the entire community rallied around to make sure the garden was successful.