From jail to table, Sheriff delivers veggies grown at organic farm at House of Correction

By August 3, 2020 Newspaper

Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis (center) and WCSO maintenance staff members Shaun Mullaney (far left) and John Travaglio (far right) deliver over 100 pounds of freshly picked jail produce to the Fitchburg Senior Center for their elder meal program. With Evangelidis from the Senior Center are (from left)are: Facility Manager Mike Brown, Principal Clerk Jennifer Brennan and MOC Site Manager Sally Brown.

Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis and WCSO maintenance staff members (from left) Shaun Mullaney and John Travaglio deliver over 100 pounds of freshly picked jail produce to Leominster Senior Center Director Laurane Brooks on Wednesday for its elder meal program.

By Staff Reporter, July 25, 2020, Sentinel & Enterprise

Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis spent time Wednesday delivering fresh vegetables from an organic garden tended by inmates and maintenance staff at the Worcester County Jail & House of Correction, the largest working farm located at a correctional facility in the commonwealth, according to press release from the Sheriff’s Office.

“The mission of our farm is to feed both our inmate population and to help feed the hungry in our community,” Evangelidis said about the 15-acre farm that grows bell peppers, cabbage, celery, corn, green beans, zucchini, squash, eggplant, tomatoes, and in the fall a bumper crop of pumpkins.

During the harvest season, the jail donates and delivers on average 300 to 500 pounds per day of fresh organic vegetables to food pantries, meals programs, veterans groups and community centers throughout Worcester County to help those who struggle with food insecurity.

On Wednesday, the sheriff and members from the jail farming staff dropped off freshly-picked prison produce at the Leominster and Fitchburg Senior Centers, according to the release.

Both places have nutritional programs that help feed the elderly.  Each location received approximately 100 pounds of organic produce grown at the jail.

“Our center may be quiet at the moment due to COVID, but the need is still there. Many seniors still look to us for many different kinds of support including supplemental nutrition and lunches. These fresh organic vegetables are like nature’s medicine for them. We truly appreciate the Sheriff’s Department thinking of us with this wonderful delivery,” Leominster Senior Center Director Laurane Brooks said.

“We are proud to be home to the region’s largest working organic farm at a correctional facility. This farm gives back in many ways; helping our inmates with the dignity of work while acquiring the skills and patience of farming all while knowing they are helping so many folks in need in our community.”  Evangelidis said.  “Last year, our farm fed both our inmate population and over 30,000 pounds of fresh produce was donated to help feed the hungry.”

Evangelidis said that so far this growing season Mother Nature and the humidity have been very kind and we are on track for an even more bountiful harvest.