Jail garden

Angelina County Sheriff Greg Sanches stands among rows of corn stalks on the Angelina County Jail property in 2014.

The Angelina County Jail’s garden harvested thousands of pounds of produce in 2019.

A total of 6,995 pounds of produce were harvested last year, including green beans, mustard greens, peas, jalapeños, bell peppers, tomatoes, turnips, turnip greens, yellow squash and zucchini squash.

The jail’s garden is maintained by trustees at the jail and overlooked by a correctional officer. Produce harvested at the garden is served in the jail’s kitchen for inmate meals.

“I talked to Greg Dawson in 2013 and we tossed the idea around,” said Sheriff Greg Sanches. “We started the garden up in the spring of 2014.”

Dawson has served as a warden in state prisons in the past, Sanches said. Once the groundwork was laid for the jail’s garden, correctional officer Joel Stanley was selected to oversee the inmates’ work on the garden.

“The garden helps to cut food costs in the jail,” Sanches said. “It also helps with the morale of the inmates, both male and female. The males work in the garden and the females help with a lot of the produce that comes in the jail, be it cleaning the vegetables or shucking the corn, shelling the peas, those type of things. It’s a combination of saving money and a good morale-builder for the inmates.”

Inmates grow in the garden during the spring and autumn seasons. Extra produce not used in the kitchen is donated to other organizations in Angelina County to help feed citizens in need.

“I am very proud of the garden and the savings that it has brought to the food budget through the many years,” Sanches said. “It has not only been beneficial budget wise, but has been good for inmate moral.”

Austin King’s email address is austin.king@lufkindailynews.com.