Sunday, May 31, 2009

Florida inmates grow veggies for local food banks

Inmates in a Florida prison have been growing vegetables to donate to food banks.

The gardening program has become so successful that it was scheduled weekly into the RECAP program, which includes inmates with substance-abuse problems, county officials said. And Huber inmates without jobs soon will work in the garden.

"They're so proud of what they're doing out here," Sgt. Laurie Sprecher said. "They're doing a good day's work and accomplishing something positive."

Rock County UW Extension and the master gardener program teach inmates about gardening. They work in a half-acre of soil off Highway 14 east of the jail. Inmates grow everything from tomatoes, lettuce and potatoes to peppers, asparagus and strawberries.

"We long ago realized that this is not about teaching them gardening," said Mike Maddox, Rock County UW Extension's horticulture educator. "This is about working together, teamwork and working independently."

The garden is a safe environment for inmates, Maddox said, and inmates talk about their kids, wives and families while working.

"It becomes kind of a reflection time," he said.

What a wonderful program. Teaching the inmates to value hard work and allowing them to produce a product that helps the community. I just hope that they get to eat some of those veggies.

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