FREMONT, Ohio — The county sheriff already replaced pancakes and red meat with cereal and turkey to save money.
Now he's come up with another way to cut food costs at the jail.
Inmates are growing their own veggies in an acre and a half garden that sits just inside the fence surrounding the Sandusky County jail.
"You name it, I think we got it in here," said James Seaman, the jail's work program director.
Three weeks ago, 13 low-risk inmates who are allowed to mow lawns and do other chores around the county planted tomatoes, potatoes, green beans, onions, sweetcorn, peppers, cabbage, carrots, cantaloupe and watermelon.
The inmates who take care of the garden have become so interested in its progress that they argue about who gets to go out at night to water the sprouting plants, Seaman said.
Sheriff Kyle Overmyer's idea for a vegetable garden took root after he was forced to reduce his budget by $75,000 this spring.
"I was going to pay for it out of my own pocket," Overmyer said. Instead, the owners of a greenhouse liked the idea so much they donated seeds and basic equipment. Other businesses chipped in fertilizer, plants and tools.
"I'm not a green thumb per se myself," Overmyer said.
Charles Teeple II, one of the inmates who has worked in the garden, said he enjoys getting outside.
"It's a break, but it's still hard work," Teeple said. "Just getting out of the box is a benefit in itself."
He won't get to taste the finished product because he gets out this week.
Still, he said he knows the others will appreciate all of the fresh food because budget cuts have made the meals less appetizing.
The sheriff said pumpkins and giant pumpkins planted just outside the jail fence will be given to children and some might be auctioned for charity.
Extra fruits and vegetables will be frozen or canned so they can be used year-round, Overmeyer said.
County officials don't know how much money the garden will save, but the sheriff plans on expanding the garden next year and might add a greenhouse if it pays off.
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Tags: ohio, inmates grow their own food, jail, garden, budget cuts, smitten_kitten
Location: Sandusky, Ohio, United States (load item map)
Marked as: approved
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