Record Harvest for SICI garden

Foodbank administrator holds large potato
The Foodbank's Jenifer Johnson with a garden potato

New equipment, good advice and hard work by IDOC inmates and staff have led to a record harvest for the South Idaho Correctional Institution Foodbank garden.

The final tally:

  • 350,000 pounds of several varieties of potatoes
  • 18,786 pounds of corn
  • 10,480 pounds of green beans

All together the total yield was 379,266 pounds -- a 106 percent increase over the year before!
To put it in perspective, that's enough produce for 260,000 meals.  The crop was so big the Idaho Foodbank was able to share the bounty with its counterparts in Utah, Montana and San Francisco.

The garden has made big advances over the past four years.  During the first two years, inmates harvested the potatoes by hand.  Last year, they used a 1920's-era, single row digger.  This year, they jumped forward to mid-20th century technology with a donated, 1950's-era, two-row digger donated by a Parma farmer, Gary Beaver.

But an even more important advancement was the donation of a 10-horsepower pump by Interwest Supply.  The pump and the harvester made it possible to expand this year's garden to nine acres from six acres the year before.

Of course, this year's bumper crop would not have happened if not for the wise counsel of four retired farmers who donated their time and effort.  Sonny McCray used his equipment to till the soil. Lavar Thornton provided his bean-growing expertise; Jerry Thiel his knowledge gained from a lifetime growing potatoes. Boyd Anderson oversaw the entire operation to make sure labor, equipment and supplies were used efficiently.

The garden receives virtually no taxpayer funding. Everything is donated, from the seed that is planted in early spring to the use of the trucks which haul the produce to the foodbank's warehouse in the fall.

The companies that have provided the equipment and supplies include:

  • Walters farms in Newdale which donated red potato seed.
  • Parkinson Seed of St. Anthony which donated russet potato seed.
  • Interwest Supply of Nampa which donated the irrigation pump and pipe.
Story published: 11/05/2013

SICI helps with onions, too!
By Deputy Warden Jay Christensen, SICI

During the week of October 21st, The Idaho Foodbank received a donation of a semi-truck trailer full of onions.

There was a catch. Some of the onions in the shipment had already started to turn bad from a lengthy storage after harvest.

That meant 40,000 pounds of onions would have to be off-loaded, un-bagged, sorted and re-bagged -- a huge, labor-intensive undertaking to say the least.

Don Brown the Idaho Foodbank resource manager contacted SICI to see if it was possible to assist.

We parked the trailer of onions right behind Wrights Hall so all compound workers could access the work without having to leave the compound.

SICI never backs away from a challenge so we gladly took on the task. The job was completed successfully on October 28.

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