Meadville Tribune

October 26, 2012

Green thumb inmates save county taxpayers $3K

County jail garden finishing its fourth year

By Keith Gushard

SAEGERTOWN — A four-year-old gardening project at the Crawford County Correctional Facility aids the jail’s bottom line and helps inmates as well, according to Warden Tim Lewis.

The garden raised $3,302.12 worth of produce this year, Lewis told the Crawford County Prison Board at its meeting Thursday.

“It helps offset our food costs, and it’s therapeutic for the inmates,” Lewis said of the project. “They love doing it. Our success — it’s thanks to the inmates.”

The jail had a half dozen inmates involved in this year’s garden project, Lewis said.

Inmates initially are screened by the jail’s maintenance department to see if they can do gardening, Lewis said.

If an inmate passes, the inmate then is screened by jail staff based on the charges for which the inmate is being held as well as whether the inmate physically would  be able to do the work, Lewis said.

Inmates chosen then work outside under supervision by guard staff, Lewis said.

“We make sure they have enough water and snacks (for energy),” Lewis said. “They like it because they get a chance to be outside.”

Like the garden itself, the benefits of the project to the jail have grown since its inception in 2009.

In 2009, the garden had only $300 worth of produce grown, Lewis said. The value of the amount grown climbed to $2,053.33 in 2010 and more than $3,300 in both 2011 and this year, he said.

 Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at