Monroe County Sheriff Office continues inmate garden program

By Jeff Clark/Monroe Journal

ABERDEEN – In an effort to help curb spending and keep his department under budget, Monroe County Sheriff Andy Hood has once again implemented an inmate garden behind the Monroe County Detention Center. This is the garden’s third year in existence.

This is the third year that the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office has planted a garden behind the jail,” Hood said. “The first two years were a work-in-progress. This year we planted 300 tomato plants, peas, okra, squash, cucumbers, cantaloupe and watermelons.”

With the opening of the new inmate work program in a few months, the amount of food required to feed the inmates will double Hood said. The on-site garden helps the department trim its food budget throughout the year.

“We harvest, package and freeze vegetables from the garden to help offset the expense of feeding inmates, which can be quite costly,” Hood said. “In May we spent over $11,000 to feed the inmates. Our goal is to raise a lot of our own vegetables and cut this expense several thousand per month. The inmates enjoy the work. I think they all agree that they would rather be working and have something productive to do every day. I would rather have them working than sleeping all day.”

Hood said that planting a garden is not the only way his department is trying to trim food costs.

“Along with raising our own food, we have our office administrator shop for the cheapest prices every week to help save money,” he said. “We buy our milk and bread from a local grocery store, because they give us the best price.”

Although one would think that supermarkets would be the biggest competitor in regards to growing produce, Hood said nature had been it’s toughest opponent.

Our main competition the past two years have been the deer.” Hood said. “It seems that we have worked hard the past couple of years to feed them. We added an electric fence around the garden to help keep them out this year.”