JONES COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - The Jones County Inmate Garden had its first crop in 2009, and since then it has fed inmates every day.
"This is our fifth year that we've actually run a garden, and we run gardens year round," said Jones County Sheriff Alex Hodge.
The garden is modeled after those at Angola and Parchman, but it's unique to this area and a first for this jail.
"I love it," said farm supervisor and corrections officer Charles Hernandez. "I mean, I was raised on a farm."
All of the vegetables grown on the inmate farm are used in the kitchens, which has not only produced healthier meals for the inmates but has also had a strong economic effect.
"It's nearly about halved our cost for food," explained Hodge.
Working in the garden is just another option for inmates who are getting service hours.
"It can't do anything but help," said Hernandez. "The main thing is it helps save the taxpayers money."
The garden is filled with squash, snap beans, tomato plants, okra, zucchini, corn, bell peppers and more.
"I try not to plant anything that can't be frozen and kept over a period of time," explained Hernandez.
The sheriff's department has partnered with JCJC, Mississippi State University and the Jones County Board of Supervisors on different levels to make the farm a success, but Hodge said it's really about watching inmates learn and grow.
"It's been a good program for the inmates, and a lot of them never realized that they could do something like this," he said.