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Lewis jail garden veggies donated to food pantry

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LOWVILLE — After helping to feed inmates over the summer, Lewis County’s jail garden will assist community members in need.

About 150 pounds of tomatoes and other vegetables from the garden, which is within a fenced-off area behind the county Public Safety Building off outer Stowe Street, have been donated to the Lowville Food Pantry.

“We’re doing over 200 families a month now,” said Daniel N. Taylor, the food pantry’s CEO. “Every little bit helps. I’m proud that they considered us.”

Several farmers and growers donated fresh produce to the pantry over the summer, helping to provide a healthy variety to its offerings, Mr. Taylor said.

As with those donations, the vegetables from the Sheriff’s Department will be put to good use, he said.

Sheriff Michael P. Carpinelli established the plot in June after hearing that a jail garden had been done in the past.

A makeshift irrigation system was installed on the fence next to the garden to make it easier to water the fledgling plants.

Fresh produce from the garden, created and cared for by several trusties under the supervision of the first-year sheriff, has been served in the jail cafeteria since the initial harvest.

“We didn’t have to buy lettuce, tomatoes or cucumbers from the first part of the summer on,” Sheriff Carpinelli said.

Trusties in recent weeks had been covering vegetables still growing in the garden with blankets to protect them during particularly cold nights, but they cleared the plot this week.

“We’re all done until next year,” Sheriff Carpinelli said.

Along with the fiscal benefit, the sheriff has touted the program as a way to improve volunteers’ self-worth, teach them about agriculture and responsibility and promote physical labor.

He already is planning a “bigger and better” garden for next summer.

“We might even have our own corn stand,” Sheriff Carpinelli joked.

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