Trinity County Sheriff puts inmates to work in a new inmate garden project

Sheriff Woody Wallace
Sheriff Woody Wallace

TRINITY, TX (KTRE) - Inmates at a Trinity County Jail all have different stories, but they all have one thing in common: green thumbs.

The Trinity County Sheriff's Office recently set up an inmate garden project that is not only cutting down food costs at the jail, but teaching the inmates a lesson.

When Sheriff Woody Wallace took office in January he said it was one of his priorities to start up the garden.

"We got some herbs, spices, tomatoes and things that they use every day in cooking," Wallace said.

It was Wallace's idea that has transformed seven county inmates into gardening gurus.

"Most of these guys have never planted a garden and have been thanking me for showing them how to plant a garden," Wallace said.

With the help from Trinity Mayor Lyle Stubbs and seeds from his feed store, Wallace puts the inmates to work three to four times a week. He says the program is giving some of the inmates a sense of purpose, especially those that will be in the jail for the long haul.

"They feel good about themselves. They feel good about learning something new," Wallace said.

Right now the inmates are growing mint and dill in the front of the jail, plus tomatoes and baby squash in the garden fields.

"Hey, it teaches them a couple of things. It teaches them how to grow a garden. They've actually talked about it being self-rewarding where they actually feel like they have accomplished something during the day," Wallace said.

The garden is also a way for the inmates to right their wrongs and do good in the community. Once the produce is ripe enough, the inmates will give out the vegetables to local food banks and churches.

Wallace is also hoping the garden will cut food costs down for the inmates.

"Actually we haven't seen it yet. We're planning on putting up as much as we can, freeze them. Eventually when we get the process down, we'll have a fall garden as well and we believe it will cut our food costs probably in half," Wallace said.

But one thing is for certain, the inmates are reaping the benefits, which Wallace says will hopefully change their behavior once they are out of jail.

"Most of them will tell you that they never had anyone take the time to show them anything when they were growing up," Wallace said.

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