The Charlotte County Sheriff's Office displayed its new expanded hydroponic lettuce-growing facility at the County Jail Aug. 8 for the first time complete with a profitable worm farm operation.
The Charlotte County Jail's new worm farm operation, raised in eight large concrete vats, is enriched with compost soil mixed with lettuce scraps and recycled shredded paper jail documents
The operation, which started out with 5,000 worms, has grown to an estimated 60,000 night crawlers.
Capt. Bill Prummell
The worms are packaged and sold to bait shops under the brand name "Jail's Bait." All proceeds from worm sales go back into the inmate welfare fund.
The worms churn up nutrient soil for plants, fertilize the grounds and help grow oak trees the county uses for plantings.
The new growing area also provides Nevada lettuce for the inmate population.
"Our inmates used to get fresh lettuce for salads only a couple times a year," said Capt. Bill Prummell. "This new facility has expanded 10 times in size and now provides fresh lettuce on a year-around basis."
Inmates now get lettuce at least once a week.
New seedlings soon will produce bell peppers, too.
"Providing our own vegetables for inmate's meals is a savings to taxpayers," Brummell said.
The hydroponic lettuce operation and worm farm is overseen by jail staff and tended to by several trustee inmates who are learning a new trade. Brummell said the jail is receiving inquiries from employers in the hydroponic industry asking for references about trained former inmates.
The smaller facility is now being used to find what vegetables grow best hydroponically at the jail.
"Plans are coming together now for the next project to grow potatoes for our inmate population," he said.