Many benefits to the community

This is Cumberland Valley District Health Department’s first year as a full partner with Grow Appalachia.  Our largest garden will be with the Jackson County Jail.  They began their garden just last year  to help feed an average of 90 inmates per day and it was a great success. They are interested in doubling their garden this year to provide even more fresh vegetables.  Because the garden is located right beside Jackson County’s regional food processing center, this creates an opportunity to process the produce in large quantities on site immediately after picking.  “The possibilities are unlimited”, said David Cooke, Grow Appalachia Director, during a site visit to the garden this past week.

Not only does the garden save the county thousands of dollars in food costs and provide healthier food for the inmates, but the prisoners also are able to learn valuable gardening skills to build their self-confidence and their life skills.  Jailer Bill Dunn transports five or six inmates to the garden several times a week.  This serves as an incentive for good behavior as the jailer alternates who is permitted to go work in the garden.  Other inmates assist in the kitchen with food preparation, so there are many hands participating in the process and learning skills to take back to their families.

Jailer Dunn is big on community service.  If his prisoners help cut a tree down, he uses the opportunity to deliver firewood to elderly folks.  So the garden is just another way to show the art of community service to the inmates.  The jail is located very near the Jackson County food bank, so the jailer and staff plan to help supply the food bank with fresh produce this year.

In other words, this garden is a win-win for everyone involved by creating all these benefits:

  • Healthier nutrition from the fresh produce
  • Saving local taxpayers thousands of dollars on the jail’s food budget
  • Providing a means of physical activity for the prisoners
  • Building self-esteem and valuable life skills among the prisoners
  • Creates an incentive for good behavior
  • Creates an opportunity for community service
  • Increases the likelihood of prisoners starting gardens with their own families after returning home

We at CVDHD are looking forward to partnering with the Jackson County Jail in this year’s garden expansion!