For the past ten years, the Worcester County Jail & House of Correction has been home to the largest working organic farm located at a correctional facility in the Commonwealth. Tended to by inmates who qualify and volunteer for the program and by maintenance staff at the jail, the fifteen acre farm grows bell peppers, cabbage, celery, corn, green beans, zucchini, squashes, eggplant, tomatoes and in the fall a bumper crop of pumpkins. “The mission of our farm is to feed both our inmate population and to help feed the hungry in our community.” Said Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis.
During the harvest season, the jail donates and delivers on average three hundred to five hundred pounds per day of fresh organic vegetables to food pantries, meals programs, veterans groups and community centers throughout Worcester County to help those who struggle with food insecurity. On Wednesday August 12th, the Sheriff and members from the Sheriff’s Department farming staff dropped off freshly picked prison produce at the Grafton Senior Center. Both have nutritional outreach programs that help feed the community and the elderly. Each location received approximately one hundred to two hundred pounds of fresh organic produce grown at the jail.
“Especially during this challenging time, we appreciate all that the Sheriff’s Department does to help the community. We receive many calls here for different kinds of assistance and that can include access to proper nutrition. This generous donation of organic vegetables from the Sheriff is greatly appreciated. It’s wonderful nutrition and nature’s medicine for our seniors.” Said Auburn Senior Center Elder Affairs Director Jean Boulette.
“We are proud to be home to the region’s largest working organic farm at a correctional facility. This farm gives back in many ways; helping our inmates with the dignity of work while acquiring the skills and patience of farming all while knowing they are helping so many folks in need in our community.” Evangelidis continued. “Last year, our farm fed both our inmate population and over thirty thousand pounds of fresh produce was donated to help feed the hungry. So far this growing season mother nature has been very kind and we are on track for an even more bountiful harvest” Said Evangelidis.