By Jeff Noble, Staff Writer
The seeds sown by inmates of the Whitley County Detention Center last spring have grown. Now, the produce planted by the facility’s new farm program are being harvested for the fall.
Eight jail inmates were at the farm, digging up fall potatoes from the two-and-a-half acres that were planted earlier this year. Out of that amount, Garden Manager Jimmy Siler said everything’s harvested except for a quarter-acre of potatoes the inmates were digging up Wednesday afternoon.
“Along with the potatoes, we’ve got bell peppers, sweet potatoes, cabbage, tomatoes, sweet corn, cantaloupes and watermelons. Except for what potatoes they’re digging today, we’ve got everything harvested,” Siler pointed out.
All of the produce from the jail farm located on the back side of the Whitley County Industrial Park near Williamsburg goes to the detention center. Two large truck freezer boxes placed behind the jail are being used for food storage.
“Some of the food will go to the Whitley County Senior Citizens Center, and some will go to a Christian outreach homeless shelter,” added Siler, who has 30 years of local farming experience, and has a degree in agriculture from the University of Kentucky. He also supplied the farming equipment and provided the expertise to help get the jail farm going.
“This is basically a commercial-type garden. It’s on the same scale that commercial growers use,” Siler added.
Whitley County Jailer Ken Mobley said in a Times-Tribune story in April the jail farm program was an idea of his predecessor, former Jailer Les Moses, and originally started in Harlan County. Officials said the program will save the county money, cut food costs and improve the health of the inmates.
“With the help we’ve had, we’ve gotten a pretty good harvest. We use this as a teaching tool for the inmates. Some of them said they’ve learned from working out here, from the day we plowed the ground to now,” Siler said.