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Inmate Garden Brings Big Dividends

Posted on Thursday, June 28, 2018 at 12:17 pm

What started out as a greenhouse project has paid big dividends for the Grundy County Sheriff’s Office.
In 2015, Sheriff Clint Shrum, Tonya Garner, and the South Cumberland Community Fund partnered to install a green-house at the old jail location. The goal – grow a few vegetables for the community and use at the jail.
“I had no idea the South Cumberland Community Fund existed until Tonya approached me,” stated Sheriff Shrum.
With Garner’s assistance, a grant proposal was submitted and subsequently funded for the greenhouse project. Since that day, the inmate garden project has expanded into a vast operation. Two greenhouses, a male and female garden crew, and a plot of land provided through a partnership with the UT Ag Extension currently houses and maintains the program.
As for the vegetables, most of them are used at the jail and at various times made available to the public. In addition to vegetables, the garden yields watermelons and pumpkins.
Sheriff Shrum explained, “The main objective of this program is to give inmates a skill that will serve them well when they reenter society. Many inmates assigned to the project have never planted a garden in their life. It is awesome to see their reaction when they begin to see it grow and harvested. It gives them a sense of accomplishment and brings value to their work.”
As for the economic impact, the Sheriff said it has saved the county about $17,000 since the program started.