A group of Colorado State University Cooperative Extension agents, Master Gardeners and Boulder County sheriff department employees have received the Colorado State Cooperative Extension Team Award for their volunteer work at the Boulder County Jail on a project that provides inmates with an opportunity to develop and care for a garden. The team received the award at a ceremony on Thursday, Sept. 22.
The team includes Kerrie Badertscher, Colorado State University Cooperative Extension horticulture agent in Boulder County; Carol A. O’Meara, Cooperative Extension horticulture assistant in Boulder; Colorado State Cooperative Extension master gardeners John Baker, Anna Mahorsky, Juanita Mulvey, Costen Aytes and Phil Veneziano; Sgt. Doug Caven, Boulder County Sheriff Department; Joe Pelle, Boulder County Sheriff Department; and Jana Mendez, volunteer coordinator.
The project benefits not only Boulder County Jail inmates, but also taxpayers and community. For several years, inmates and volunteers have cultivated a garden that produces fresh fruit and vegetables for the jail’s kitchen. The inmates involved have the opportunity to perform community service during their sentence, and are able to work with mentors to prepare themselves for work after incarceration. Some inmates have even entered and won ribbons at the Boulder County Fair for their produce.
Produce used in the kitchen has increased from 63,000 lbs. in 1997 to 24,000 lbs. in 2004. The market value of the 2004 crop is $32,088. What produce is not used in the jail due to overflow or time constraints is donated to shelters in the area.
The project has already received recognition from the National Association of Counties as an innovative program that which contributes to and enhances county government in the United States, and was honored with their 2005 Achievement Award.