WARREN - Corrections officers at the Trumbull County Jail have used their green thumbs - and a few non-violent inmates - to help feed hungry county residents.
As part of a program created last year by the sheriff's office, Trumbull County sheriff's deputies harvested about 60 pounds of green beans Wednesday and donated the crops to the Warren Family Mission.
It was the first of several harvests the officers expect to reap from a plot of land this year on county property. All equipment and seeds were donated.
"It's really doing good," said Sheriff Tom Altiere. "We've quadrupled the size over last year, and we have some experienced people doing the gardening."
Sheriff's Office Chief of Staff Don Guarino said the crops - including 600 ears of corn, squash, zucchini, tomatoes and peppers - have turned out great so far this year despite the heat and lack of rain.
The food is donated to the Warren Family Mission and Someplace Safe, Guarino said.
The program started last year and Trumbull 100, a local philanthropic group, donated lawn mowers and weed trimmers. This year seeds were donated by the King Bros. in Bristol and fertilizer was donated by Nature's Blend in Warren.
Guarino said about two or three times per week, assistant warden Eric Shay takes three inmates to tend to the garden.
Sheriff's officials asked to keep the location of the garden secret so people would not try and steal the crops.
The inmates, Guarino said, go through a screening process that includes being disqualified for any felony offenses.
He said the inmates used cannot have been accused or convicted of committing crimes with victims, have no prior escape charges and no serious drug offenses. Inmates also have to be approved by a judge before they are allowed to work in the field.
Shay said this year they quadrupled the size of the field and focused on crops that could be frozen.
Corrections officer John Horton, who also helps with the field and who volunteers with the Warren Family Mission, said the agencies have been ecstatic to get the extra donations.
"Anything we provide is worth its weight in gold," he said. "They serve hundreds of people."