LINCOLNTON, N.C. - North Carolina prisons work extremely hard in balancing custody concerns with programming that teaches offenders skills to be put to use back in the community when sentences are served.
This year at Lincoln Correctional Center, offenders grew so many fruits and vegetables that there wasn’t enough space at the facility. So, they donated more than 2,400 pounds to two local non-profits for their use.
“This was a great way to give back to the community,” said Lincoln CC Warden Sam Dotson (center in photo on the right). “The offenders felt good about doing this.”
Earlier this year, the facility received donations from local churches to build a homemade greenhouse and purchase seeds. Under the direction of Correctional Officer John Daugherty, who supervised the project, offenders planted the seeds in March and then transferred the plants to about a four-acre plot at the facility.
About 500 watermelon plants, 500 tomato plants, zucchini, okra, green beans and yellow squash were grown during the year. The growing conditions were perfect so when it was time to harvest the fruits and produce, there was plenty to feed the offenders at the minimum custody. In fact, there was too much to keep at the facility.
“The offenders really benefitted,” Dotson said. “They had the opportunity to eat lots of fresh veggies and watermelon. It was great to add to meals and cooked in great ways. But the food service manager said the cooler was full and we actually had too much food. We had to do something with the extra food.”
The facility was notified that two local non-profits could benefit from food donations. The Hesed House of Hope in Lincolnton, the only homeless shelter in Lincoln County, and the Lincoln County Christian Ministries became the beneficiaries of five truckloads of fruits and vegetables. John Hall, director of the Hesed House, said one of his Board of Directors volunteers with the prison ministry and found out about the produce, as well as had access to trucks to transport.
“It was impressive to see the maintenance crew from the prison form a line and load the trucks,” Hall said. “A massive amount of work went into this and we are very appreciative of what the offenders and staff did. The veggies we received were used to make sandwiches and snacks and lasted a week. It was a blessing to all of us.”
Dotson said. “This was our first big harvest. We’ve done smaller setups in the past.”
Dotson and Lincoln CC hope to continue this type of community contribution as this is a great way for offenders at the reentry facility prepare to re-join society.
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