Inmates plant garden for Idaho Foodbank

An inmate weeds a row of beans at SICI's 2011garden
An inmate weeds a row of beans at SICI's Foodbank garden

BOISE, June 20, 2011 – For the second year in a row, the Idaho Department of Correction has teamed up with Farmers Insurance Group and The Idaho Foodbank to grow fresh vegetables for hungry Idaho families.

Inmates from South Idaho Correctional Institution have planted a six-acre garden near the prison south of Boise. Over the next few months the inmates will tend the crop by hand and harvest the produce this summer. 

The garden is made up of three acres of red potatoes, two acres of green beans and one acre of carrots. Last year’s crop produced forty tons of potatoes, one ton of corn, one ton of green beans, and one ton of carrots. That was enough fresh produce to meet the nutritional needs of about 12,000 people for one week.

"We are very excited to see the garden ready for its second year," said Karen Vauk, Idaho Foodbank's President and CEO. “The Foodbank has seen 90% increase in food distribution over the past three years and we continue to work hard to obtain and distribute more nutritious food than ever before. The vegetables from this garden are a vital part of our goal to get the best food to hungry families across the state.”

Farmers Insurance District Manager Malcolm “Trey” Klauss came up with the idea for the garden two years ago. Klauss figured that instead of just giving food to the food bank, he and his colleagues could have a bigger impact by providing seed and farm supplies to the IDOC. 

“It is my ultimate goal to have the garden be at least 80-plus acres and to consist of one or two greenhouses, and to be able to produce some sort of crop through the year,” Klauss said.

The IDOC operated prison farms for years, but modern food production techniques made the practice obsolete. It became more expensive for the department to operate the farms than to simply buy food.

“We would not be able to take on a project like this if it weren’t for Farmers Insurance and other generous donors,” says IDOC Director Brent Reinke. “Because of their support, this garden costs taxpayers virtually nothing.”

Other donors to the garden project include: 

  • The Boise Adjusters Association of Idaho which donated $1,000
  • Harris Moran Seed Company which provided bean and carrot seeds
  • Walters Produce of Newdale which provided red potato seed.

All donations benefit The Idaho Foodbank and are tax deductible.  To donate, contact Trey Klauss with Farmers Insurance at (208) 884-5400, or Kerry Duraso with The Idaho Foodbank at (208) 336-9643, extension 261.

Story published: 07/20/2011
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