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Jail garden gets off to smoky start

Clouds of smoke wafting through downtown Brookhaven on a gentlebreeze Thursday afternoon were caused by sheriff’s deputies andinmates clearing a field along First Street for a garden.

Deputies and inmates were joined by volunteers with the Heuck’sRetreat, Hog Chain and Zetus Volunteer Fire Departments, LincolnCounty Civil Defense and others in a controlled burn of 10-12 acresof pasture land near the old Coffee Pot Restaurant.

The controlled burn was part of the first phase in creating alarge vegetable garden that will be worked by inmates for inmates,said Sheriff Wiley Calcote.

The pasture was burned in sections created by plowing fire lanesfor better control, he said. The land was donated to the sheriff’sdepartment by a private landowner specifically for thisproject.

“This is a money-saving venture for the taxpayers of LincolnCounty,” Calcote said. “We’re going to use the vegetables grownhere to help feed the inmates. They’ll be grown by theinmates.”

The sheriff said the new garden project will not detract fromany existing inmate work program.

“This will not take away from any of the other work projectsalready in effect,” Calcote said. “It will be done in the eveningswhen they come in from those projects, and they will be supervisedat all times.”

Approximately 5-10 inmates will work the garden each evening, hesaid.

Prisoners used in the inmate work programs and the gardenproject volunteer for the opportunity, Calcote said, and do notreceive any special treatment, other than being allowed to leavetheir cells to participate.

Inmates will grow “your standard garden-variety vegetables” atthe site including butter beans, peas, squash, tomatoes and okra,he said.

Vegetables grown in the garden will be used to supplement mealsfor the inmates. A jail kitchen staffed by inmates openedThursday.

The garden will provide further savings on the kitchen plan, hesaid. It was not used to determine the cost of inmate’s meals perday when jail officials were considering the jail kitchen, Calcotesaid.

“We think this will really cut those costs tremendously,” hesaid.

Inmates have already begun breaking ground at the new site, thesheriff said, and he thanked District Four Supervisor W.D. “Doug”Moak for use of the county tractor.