Shiawassee jail creates garden program for inmates to reduce foo - WNEM TV 5

Shiawassee jail creates garden program for inmates to reduce food budget

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)

It’s not often you see people gardening in jumpsuits that say county jail across them.

It’s the new normal in Shiawassee County.

“I love gardening. I love saving money. This is going to be great,” said Cindy Garber, garden volunteer.

Sheriff Brian Begole said he just happened to stumble on the idea.

“I heard that Charlevoix County was doing a garden to offset their costs dramatically. So, I thought this is a farming community. I thought the community would stand behind something like this and they certainly did,” Begole said.

The Shiawassee County Jail now has its first inmate garden, thanks to multiple donations and a handful of volunteers.

More than a dozen minimum security prisoners use their work release center to grow vegetables.

Garden manager Daniel McMaster said everything grown in the garden will be used inside the jail.

“They can come out, pick it and clean it and wash it. And there we go. It’s on the table for lunch,” McMaster said.

McMaster said the garden is also a way for the inmates to give back to society while they are serving time.

The inmate garden isn’t only good for the people working at it, but eventually it will help with the jail food budget in the long run.

Begole said every year the jail spends almost $50,000 on vegetables alone. That’s now an expense of the past.

“We anticipate that we’re going to offset the costs of feeding inmates up to one-third. So, if we could reduce it by $15,000, we think it’d be a complete success,” Begole said.

Begole said it would be an even bigger success if the inmates use what they learn in the garden to find jobs outside of the jail.

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