WHITEHALL, Wis. (WEAU) -- A new program is about to give jail inmates an opportunity to give back to their community, and save taxpayers a few dollars as well.
The Trempealeau County Sheriff's Department and several other agencies are creating a community garden. Inmates from the Trempealeau County Jail will maintain it. The Sheriff's says the project is a win-win for the entire community.
“Right now we're in stage one,” said Trempealeau County Sheriff’s Richard Anderson.
Anderson says the idea behind the project is to give low-risk inmates an opportunity to become productive members of society.
“It inspires the inmates to go out, to be productive, to do something, and to basically get them ready to go back out to the street,” explained Anderson.
“They would earn credit, one day off their sentence for every 24 hours of work, so that's a bit of money savings to the tax payers,” said Jail Administrator Tonya Niederkorn.
Sheriff Anderson says the project will start on an acre of land. It's county-owned, and right next to the Trempealeau County Healthcare Center, about a mile from the jail.
“We provide the meals for the inmates, and the idea is that eventually they produce could be supplemented onto those menus and be served,” explained Mary Gullickasrud with Trempealeau County Healthcare Center.
The Healthcare Center says produce grown at the garden could also be sold at a farmer's market in town. That would offset the cost of the inmates' meals. It would also encourage people at the jail and the Healthcare Center to eat organic, locally-grown food.
“In this kind of profession you usually see the negative side of things ,so this is a positive collaborative effort,” said Niederkorn.
Some food would be donated to local food pantries as well.
“Not always being paid for something but doing some community service type things,” added Gullickasrud.
The Sheriff says putting up the garden is going to be fairly inexpensive since the county already has the land. He says the program still needs volunteers though and money to cover some equipment costs.
The Sheriff says planting is planned for May of 2014.
Those interested in volunteering with the community garden or making a donation can contact the Trempealeau County Sheriff Office.
Contact information is provided below.