From garden' to field,' inmates make success of farm

By By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
July 17, 2001
Inmates at the Lauderdale County Detention Facility did so well with a one-acre farming operation behind the Hilltop House for Boys that they've been given more acres in a different location.
District 4 Supervisor Q.V. Sykes on Monday announced his plans to give Sheriff Billy Sollie's inmate work farm program more space on land off Lover's Lane.
Sollie gave supervisors the results of the inmates' first month's harvest at a work session late last week.
He said from June 5 to July 11, inmates collected 240 pounds of tomatoes, 82 pounds of squash, 241 pounds of okra, three pounds of hot peppers, 2 pounds and 4 ounces of bell peppers, 131 pounds of butter beans and 109 pounds of purple hull peas.
The total value of the first month's crops, based on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's wholesale value, is a little more than $600. Sollie said the figure is not a large one, but it is $600 in food costs that won't have to be funded by taxpayers.
Sollie said he anticipates additional crops. Watermelons and cantaloupes haven't been harvested, and inmates continue to gather more of what they began to harvest last month.
He said inmates' sense of pride and happiness in their efforts is worth more than the money saved.
At the new work farm, located in Sykes' district, said inmates will be allowed to plant at least three to four acres of the land, maybe more.
Sollie said he hopes to at least double the number of inmates in the work farm program. Seven inmates currently work in the garden on a regular basis.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3275, or e-mail her at sblackmon@themeridianstar.com.

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