Burke County inmates start fresh food garden project

Published: May. 18, 2022 at 6:07 AM EDT
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WAYNESBORO, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Inmates at the Burke County Detention Center are working together to grow garden items to give back to the local community.

The project called Project Green began after jail counselor Patrick Finney saw the project at work in Chatham County.

“A little bit of knowledge and understanding, and to be truthful,” Bobby Peterson and Christopher Rigdon, inmates.

Peterson and Rigdon spend some time each day growing watermelons, tomatoes, squash, and other fresh foods in a garden behind the detention center.

Deputies say the items grown can be used to feed inmates or can be donated to local food banks.

“I am grateful that our inmates are provided with a program that teaches them valuable life lessons and career-building skills,” Sheriff Alfonzo Williams said. “Through the use of everyday tools of communication, teamwork, skillset, problem-solving, and just cause our inmates are aided in their abilities to enhance their skills to ready themselves for gainful employment and a productive lifestyle.”

Peterson and Rigdon said: “It’s helping me cope a little bit better. It’s like therapy almost.”

It’s more than just a coping mechanism but an opportunity to teach them valuable skills like teamwork, perseverance, and patience.

Finney said: “A garden requires a lot of patience to have a positive outcome, and that’s my goal for them to have a positive outcome on some of their accomplishments.”

Williams said: “It’s giving them a skill that they can then take out into this agricultural community that we live and help them be productive and put it to use.”

It’s one of the initiatives started by the sheriff as he hopes his employees can help be a positive influence on the inmates to change their lives for the better.

“If we grow ourselves, we are enriched to grow them, and if we grow them they can then go out and be productive and help grow other people and help to change lives one person at a time,” he said.

Inmates hope to use what they learn here.

Peterson and Rigdon said: “We’ll learn how to stay out of bad circumstances and get into some positive ones.”

Finney says they’re hoping to expand the garden, and they’re hopeful the inmates will get to enjoy the food they grew here.

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