On a one and a half acre tract of land just below Burnsville Elementary School is a garden that is cared for by a number of inmates from the Yancey County Detention Facility. The Yancey County Commissioners were given an update about this innovative project by Adam McCurry, agriculture technician, with Yancey County Cooperative Extension Service. Mr. McCurry told the commissioners that he had really enjoyed helping with this project of growing 2,000 row feet of half runner beans; 1,000 yellow crooked neck squash; and 1,000 slicing cucumbers. "I want to show these guys how to do something constructive after their time in jail is up and they seem to enjoy it", said Mr. McCurry.

The project was the idea of Chief Deputy Shane Hilliard of the Yancey County Sheriff's Office. "I had this idea for some time but didn't know of any land that the County had available until this site was recently acquired from the school system. I thought it would be a good way for the inmates to contribute positively to the community and hopefully learn a skill that they can take with them", stated Chief Deputy Hilliard.

When the crops are harvested they are going to be sold by TRACTOR Food and Farms, Yancey County's aggregation and distribution center for local produce. The funds raised from the crops will then go back into the TRACTOR program to help pay their overhead costs, which is partially funded by Yancey County and also support the overall inmate work program. These trustee inmates get to be outside the jail to provide a valuable community service, while learning a useful skill. The TRACTOR program and the County benefit from the potential revenue from the sale of the produce, and the public has a source of locally grown food.

"When Chief Deputy Hilliard brought this idea to me, I immediately recognized it was a win, win for everyone involved. While the idea of an inmate raised garden isn't new, the idea of putting the proceeds from the sale of the produce back into the TRACTOR program and using it as an economic driver is innovative and new", stated County Manager Nathan Bennett.





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