HARRISON, Ark. - The garden next to the Boone County jail has been around as long as the jail.
“Fortunately when Ron and Karen Moore gave us this five acres here 10 years ago when we built the jail, one of the things we had in mind when I was county judge and the other sheriff here was having a place where we could produce some vegetables for the inmates," said Boone County Sheriff Mike Moore.
And it’s a way for the inmates to be outside and to provide good quality food. The program has proven to be quite "fruitful."
“Inmates do all the planning, all the soil preparation, all the fertilizing and all the cultivation and all the harvesting," Moore said.
But not every inmate can participate.
“Our Act 309 inmates, which are state prisoners who are allowed to come and be trustees in the county jails in Arkansas, they’re the ones who feel the brunt of garden season here at the jail. Sometimes we use misdemeanor folks who are in our jail to work in the garden also," Moore said.
The garden allows the sheriff’s office to add healthy foods like squash, corn, and tomatoes and even potatoes to the inmates’ diets.
“In the last two years, we've produced 24,000 pounds of squash," the sheriff said. "That’s a lot of squash. Inmates they probably get sick of it sometimes but it’s a good meal for them.”
Moore said the garden helps with the food budget because they don’t have to go out and buy those fresh vegetables.
“Arkansas has a standard on meals just like most states do for your inmates. You have to meet a dietary minimum," he said.
The sheriff said he’s not sure how many other jails have gardens, but he’s appreciative of the one here at his jail.
And there's been no plans to "squash" the program any time soon.
The sheriff says if there’s any food leftover, they may take vegetables to the women’s shelter or House of Hope in Harrison.