KALAMAZOO, MI —
Rutabaga, cabbage, tomatoes, beans, mustard greens, squash, cucumbers, kale, the list goes on.
All of those items and more can found growing in a well-cared-for garden, located just southeast of the Kalamazoo County Jail. What makes this garden unique is the gardeners.
Each of them are low-risk, non-violent offenders that have gone through a comprehensive screening process before being allowed to work in the garden.
“We had a total of seven people working in the garden this year, though not all at once,” said Kalamazoo County Sheriff Richard Fuller, who launched the program in 2009, one year after first being elected sheriff. “Throughout the season it rotates as inmates are not here for very long. Most of these guys are here over the summer, and then off they go.”
The purpose of the garden, Fuller said, is multi-faceted. It offers inmates the opportunity to develop a skill set that they can use once they are released, encourages a healthy lifestyle, and it also provides produce used in the jail kitchen as well as for members of the community in need.
BY: Ryan Boldrey