Sharp County's Head Jailor Eric Pickle said that two of his most trusted inmates have helped the county cut food costs in half.
James Arnold and Patrick Treadway are incarcerated in the Sharp County Jail. These two men have earned the status of trustees which allows them a little more freedom, Pickle said.
Arnold and Treadway started the garden project in early spring with a garden tiller. The tiller needed over $750 worth of repairs, but the two men told Pickle not to pay that much to have it fixed because they could do the repairs themselves. Much to Pickles surprise, the men fixed the tiller with just a few new parts and a lot of hard work.
With the price of gas increasing, the county has had to make several budget cuts, one of which included how much could be spent on food. Pickle chose Arnold and Treadway to plant and maintain a garden to help with food costs.
"When they first started they ran into a little trouble because the soil was deficient in calcium, which was causing the vegetables to rot on the vine," Pickle said. "But once they addressed the problem, the plants started producing more than anyone expected. The food costs has been cut almost in half since the garden started," Pickle said.
While Arnold and Treadway are the main men involved in the garden, Pickle says other individuals trying to pay off fines also work in the garden.
Arnold and Treadway are also doing the canning of the vegetables. They have canned over 100 jars of pickles, some okra and salsa. Arnold said that out of the three rows of corn they planted, they got around 280 ears of corn.
"I enjoy stuff like this and hope to have a bigger garden next year," Arnold said.
Pickle said, "I trust these boys completely and they are very good at reporting where they are." All Pickle has to do is make sure they have the things they need to maintain the garden. "Their hearts are really in it and it shows," Pickle said.
The men work in the garden every day totaling at least eight hours a week. Pickle said when they are not in the garden they are always busy on something else like fixing cars in the impound for auction.