ACI Farm Program Doubles Their Acreage This Year - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

ACI Farm Program Doubles Their Acreage This Year

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Farming is a way of life for many in Jackson county. For the state's correctional institutions it's a resource that helps reduce food costs.

On average, it costs $1.48 to feed an inmate 3 meals per day. On the menu,  food grown at the prison by the inmates themselves.

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"We have sweet potatoes, we have carrots, we have cabbage and collards, turnips," says Lt. Jeff Hill, who oversees the inmates who are out on the farm 5 days a week.

Back in 2010, Governor Rick Scott pushed for correctional institutions to grow their on food.

"We've always grown vegetables here but with his instructions, we've increased our acreage significantly over the last three years," says ACI's Warden Sam Culpepper. Within the last year., they've nearly doubled it.  Inmates now have 80 acres of land to tend to.

"We know we cant produce for every prision in the state but the more we have, it enhances everybody's food service per diem," says Culpepper.

Wednesday, inmates continued to harvest sweet potatoes which make up a little over half the farm's acreage.

"It takes tremendous amount of sweet potatoes to feed the prison population and we have a bunch of them," Sgt. Rex Williford.

Inmates have already harvested 700,000 pounds of the sweet crop and expect to harvest 1 million pounds this year.

ACI tripled their acreage of the specific crop this year because it's an authorized  subsitutute to white potatoes. Warden Culpepper says white potatoes cost on average $240a meal. Therefore, by subsituting, he says that money is saved.  

"The sole purpose of this program to minimize the per diem, the food service cost that we have here, which is a direct savings to the tax payers," says Warden Culpepper.

Culpepper says they are also looking at adding more acreage within the next few years, which would be added on the other side of Highway 90.