With the help of Walton Wellness inmates at the Walton County Jail will be creating a garden.
And a similar effort is taking place on Davis Street in Monroe with the hopes of turning the troubled neighborhood around.
Garden at the jail
Through a partnership between the Walton County Sheriff's Office, St. Alban's Episcopal Church and Walton Wellness, inmates will be able to "pay restitution to the community by growing healthy produce for those in need in our county," according to Walton Wellness Coordinator DeDe Harris.
The effort began when St. Alban's of Monroe received a $2,300 grant from ACTION Inc. for seeds, plants, supplies and equipment. The funds were made available from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.
"It hopefully will help the prisoners contribute in a positive way to the community," said Father Brent Owens of St. Alban's. "At the same time help those in need in the community."
The money has been placed in an account at Buckles Hardware in Monroe where approved volunteers can charge for supplies, Harris said.
"There is not any better, direct restitution I can think of for these inmates then growing food for those in need in our community," Sheriff Joe Chapman said. "We need to get them out of the jail and put them to work."
Chapman said it has yet to be determined how many inmates will participate in the program.
The supervised inmates will farm in a football-sized field behind the South Madison Avenue jail.
St Alban's officials are acting as advisors on the garden project, working with inmates showing them how to plant, maintain and harvest, Harris said.
The church will give the harvest to those in need in the community with the help of Faith in Serving Humanity and the local ACTION Inc. office to distribute food as well.
Davis Street Community Garden
In October, winter crops such as collards, broccoli, cabbage, turnips and kale were planted on Davis Street in Monroe.
"The purpose of the garden is to provide free source of healthy fresh produce to residents of Davis Street and the surrounding neighborhoods," Harris said. "It also supplies food to Rivers of Mercy Church for its once a week community dinners."
Marvin Little, who lives next to the garden, is the main caretaker. Church pastor Dawn Clark said the church provides not only food, but also a positive way for the community to come together.
"What we wanted to do was provide and inexpensive way to provide food if they need it and to give the community something to rally around," Clark said, adding it feeds about 20 people.
Once again, ACTION Inc. gave $2,200 in ARAA funds to Rivers of Mercy Church for the seeds, plants, supplies and equipment.
"It has attracted some volunteers including Friends of Walton which help with the plowing and planning of the park and Master Gardeners which supplied and planted blueberry trees around the garden," Harris said, adding a passive park could also be built in near the garden.
Walton Wellness has partnered with the church in helping to establish the garden and solicit funds to keep it planted and maintained, Harris said. The garden will also be featured in the Monroe Art Guild's annual Garden Tour April 24.
"One of the things I've seen there is a lot of the older people were inside the house," Clark said. "One of the goals we had was having people come out of their house and feel comfortable in their neighborhood."
Volunteers and donations are needed for both gardens. For more information contact WCSO Maj. Wade Harris at 770-267-1012 or email@example.com, or Walton Wellness at 770-868-1252 or firstname.lastname@example.org.