Pontotoc County Jail Garden provides benefits for inmates and taxpayers


PONTOTOC, MISS. (WCBI) – Inmates at one Northeast Mississippi county jail are playing a big role in their daily menu. The inmates help plant and harvest acres of vegetables that are used to provide healthy meals and the operation also saves tax dollars.

Every morning, inmates at the Pontotoc County Jail go to work in the garden.

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Lately, they have been harvesting corn, one of the largest crops in the jail’s garden.

Sheriff Leo Mask started the garden to grow vegetables that would feed the prisoners.

“We have tomatoes, squash, butter beans, green beans, snap beans, every kind of vegetable that we need,” said Sheriff Mask.

Non violent offenders are allowed to plant, harvest and sort the vegetables. Those who can’t leave their cells also have roles to play.

“Even ones that can’t go out, that are locked down, we put corn, they shuck and silk the corn,” said Sheriff Mask.

After the vegetables are harvested they are brought to walk-in coolers, where they are frozen. The sheriff said there is about a two year supply of vegetables to feed the inmates.

“If we don’t grow anything else this year we have vegetables for two years, this crop here will put us on over, in case we have a bad year next year,” said Sheriff Mask.

The county jail garden also saves taxpayer dollars.

“It costs us about 84 cents a day, per inmate, not a meal, but a day, and that’s a big savings, it helps where we can use the money to buy other things, instead of food,” said Sheriff Mask.

Sheriff Mask said all the corn should be harvested in the next week or so. Other vegetables will be harvested through the summer and into the fall.

Sheriff Mask said the community also helps with the garden. Seed is donated, and businesses have donated walk-in coolers and other supplies for the jail garden.