Clare County Inmates Grow Food in Garden, Donate to Local Senior Center

Inmates at the Clare County jail are growing their own vegetables then donating them to seniors in the community.

Kyle Wright, an outdoor trustee, says “It’s just nice to be able to give back and do something with my time here.”

Gardening wasn’t something Wright did before but now, during his time at the jail, he says it’s something he’s enjoyed.

“It’s really nice to be able to have fresh food and make everyone else happy inside the jail with it, it’s really nice,” Wright says.

For years, Sheriff John Wilson has dreamed of having a garden like this. So when someone donated hundreds of seeds last year, he was excited to get it growing.

“A lot of them never had a garden, they’ve never done anything like that makes them feel good for doing it,” Sheriff Wilson says.

The inmates grow zucchini, snap peas, squash, and green beans. Sheriff Wilson says the garden gives the inmates something to get their mind off of the time.

“We’re all human, we all make mistakes and you have to answer for your mistakes, and they know that. They’re here and what they’re doing now is something that’s going to stay in their heart that they helped out.”

In the end, the inmates get to enjoy the fresh produce. But they’re not the only ones. A portion of it gets donated to the local senior center.

Lori Phelps, executive director the Clare County Senior Services / Council on Aging, says, “We really enjoy showing them how good it feels to be able to give. And that’s what they do when they’re working in the garden, they’re coming over here and working in the building knowing that they’re helping seniors in the community.”

Sheriff Wilson says the garden gives inmates like Wright skills that will help his future blossom.

“You’ll see how hard they can really work when they put their mind to it.”