Inmates harvest what they planted

first_imgFive months ago, Jimmy Nickell worked alongside other inmates from Larch Corrections Center to plant more than 40 rows of seeds in a 2-acre plot of land in the Andresen-St. Johns neighborhood.He and other prisoners then returned a handful of times over the summer to weed and spray the plants to keep away mildew.On Monday, Nickell worked to harvest the fruit of his labor: tens of thousands of pounds of butternut squash.“I think it’s pretty gratifying to see something at the beginning and to finish it all the way through,” he said.Snipped from their vines and then packed into crates, the squash was hauled off to the Clark County Food Bank. Although prison inmates have worked with the food bank in the past, the recent harvest was the product of a collaboration where the inmates did all the work — from seed to harvest.“I think they’re amazed at what their efforts led to,” said Jerry Hofer, co-owner of J’s Custom Landscaping. “Their effort was 90 percent of the work.”Hofer and Blair Wolfley, who manages Heritage Farm on 78th Street, worked together to lead the inmates and teach them how to grow the squash. That included laying about a mile and a half of irrigation drip lines.“These guys are good workers,” Hofer said. “The commitment and enthusiasm is high.”For the Department of Corrections, the work fell to its work crew program, which charges government agencies and nonprofits $1.31 per hour per inmate for their labor. For their work, inmates earn 50 cents an hour.last_img

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