Jail inmates growing new skills in the garden

Posted at 8:02 PM, Jul 08, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-08 20:02:12-04

KALAMAZOO COUNTY, Mich. - Jail inmates are working in their very own garden while helping offset the cost of their meals at the same time.

Sheriff Rick Fuller at the Kalamazoo County Jail said the 2015 Inmate Worker Garden is the fourth of its kind now, teaching inmates new skills while serving their time.

"It gives them an opportunity to learn something they’ve never learned before," said Sheriff Fuller. "Family members of the inmate population can come here and see what their family member or their inmate has been able to produce."

The jail spends roughly $410 per inmate each year on meals: about $2.40 per day, serving a total of about 460,000 meals per year which makes sustaining the 215 Inmate Worker Garden even more important.

After extending the garden another 40 feet, this is the 4th and largest garden in the past six year's of the program. Sheriff Fuller understands it wouldn't be possible without the help of other partners in the community.

"We have different community green houses that help as well as the MSU extension and other businesses."

Even the Climax Twp. Supervisor helps till the soil every year. According to Sheriff Fuller, the garden even serves as a good place to take a break.

"You'll hear all of us at any time go, 'You know what? I'm going to go check the garden'," said Fuller.

Sheriff Fuller tells Fox 17 in years past, the garden would produce a surplus of vegetables, allowing leftovers to flow through the local gospel mission. But this year they're using everything they produce, working hard to keep their budget down in the cost of meals.