LINCOLN PARISH, La. (6/27/19)– Behind the highly secured gates of the Lincoln Parish Detention Center lays nearly three acres of crops. Dozens of vegetables are planted and harvested for the annual summer produce sale.

But this isn’t your typical farmer’s market.

“The inmate welfare fund is a separate fund that’s been set up to where proceeds from the farming we have here or the wood shop all go to benefit the inmates,” said Stephen Williams with the Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s Department.

The annual program rolled out in 2013.

Inmates learn farming skills and plant a variety of vegetables to sell to local citizens.

From tomatoes to purple hull peas, the Lincoln Parish Detention Center garden has it all, and they’re selling all these vegetables throughout the summer .

All proceeds go directly back to the inmate welfare fund. This program helps inmates receive their GED’s, pays for television in their dorms, and it even helps finance the cost of inmates to leave for funerals.

“They love it. They take a lot of pride in it, and every year the garden seems to get better and better,” said Williams.

A group of inmates go out to the fields every morning to pick the vegetables, and every morning, dozens of residents line outside the detention center to get their pick of the crops.

And nothing goes to waste.

“Whatever’s not sold by the end of the day, we take it to our kitchen and the inmates get to enjoy it.” said Williams.

Williams says the program boosts morale for the inmates, and he’s not the only one that thinks the program is a stellar idea.

“I think it’s a fine project, it gives the prisoners something to do, it funds back in with the prisoners, money to spend for them,” said Lincoln Parish resident Bob Drake.

Williams says last year the sale made more than $10,000 for the inmate welfare fund. The sale will run through late August.