The Daviess County Detention Center is continuing its gardening program through the fall by harvesting thousands of pumpkins that will be donated to local schools and organizations. For the fifth year in a row, inmates have been seeding, cultivating and donating pumpkins from the jail’s garden to give back to the community.
Jailer Art Maglinger said several schools began picking up pumpkins from the jail last week and will continue through the month of October. Though DCDC normally hand delivers the pumpkins to schools and agencies, the format for donating pumpkins was adjusted this year due to coronavirus concerns.
“We’ve already had four or five school administrators pick them up,” Maglinger said. “Most of the schools use them for decorations around the school or allow their students to paint them.”
Last year, one school used the pumpkins to promote an anti-bullying campaign, and the pumpkins were painted to reflect the program and bring awareness to the issue.
Maglinger said this year’s pumpkin patch is a little smaller than last year’s, simply because the jail has continued to be aggressive in keeping COVID-19 from spreading throughout the facility.
Instead of working with one garden, inmates have tended to two pumpkin patches at the jail this year. While last year’s bounty produced around 5,000 pumpkins, this year’s will consist of 2,000-3,000.
The pumpkins will be a little smaller in size as well, making it easier for children to paint. The majority of donated pumpkins go to local elementary schools, Maglinger said.
The gardening project — which was initially spearheaded and is annually organized by Sgt. Zack Ezell — has been a positive experience for both the inmates and the community, Maglinger said.
“We had to shut down work crews during the pandemic. State guidelines weren’t going to let any community supervisors [participate], but we still maintain the facility grounds,” he said. “I feel like it’s a good community project where the inmates can give back to the community and spend time harvesting these pumpkins.”
Those who work in the garden are level 1 and 2 inmates and are considered “community-classified inmates,” Maglinger said. The jail’s garden program has been consistently praised for allowing the inmates to work outside and do something positive for the community.
Any leftover pumpkins are normally donated to local organizations, nursing homes and churches. Those requesting pumpkins for their organizations or agencies should be affiliated with said program, Maglinger said.