Inmates at the South Idaho Correctional Institution near Boise recently began harvesting the potatoes they grew in a six-acre prison garden. The produce will go to the Idaho Foodbank for distribution to local families.
This is the third year for the project. It represents a revival of an earlier era when prison farms were common and inmates grew food for their own use. Seven Idaho businesses and volunteers donated their time and resources for the 2012 season, including fertilizer, seed, farming knowledge and more.
Officials say its been a banner year. The garden has produced more than two tons of green beans. Foodbank staffers believe it will produce more than 150,000 pounds by the end of the season. This is a substantial increase over the 115,000 pounds of vegetables produced in the first two years of the program combined.
Julie Pipal, food resource manager at the Idaho Foodbank, credits volunteers for much of this years success, in particular two retired Kuna farmers, Boyd Anderson and Lavar Thornton. Anderson just turned 80. Thornton will turn 80 soon.
Having farmers here who know the business are the critical piece, said Pipal. We call Boyd and Lavar our angels in flannel shirts. They were out, working in the fields every week.
Anderson provided a key bit of help, the loan of a family heirloom. After undergoing a few repairs in the prison shop, his 1920-era potato digger has been making harvesting a little easier. Inmates have done all the other work by hand.
By the end of the season, we will probably have harvested close to 200,000 pounds, said Pipal. Thats just from six acres. Think of all those acres out there just waiting to be farmed.
Project organizers are already preparing for next years season. Theyll meet in November to start planning. If youre interested in helping out, contact Julie Pipal at the Idaho Foodbank: email@example.com or 336-9643, ext. 2701.
FREE FOOD FEEDS THE NEED
The Northwest Food Bank and Prosper LLC, a Caldwell real estate and investment company, are hosting a free food distribution event, 6 to 9 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 18, at the Simplot Stadium parking lot in Caldwell.
Approximately two semi-truckloads of food will be distributed to the public for free, no questions asked. The hosts held a similar event in Caldwell earlier this summer. About 550 people showed up for that event, which lasted about four hours, said Kim Pelham from Prosper LLC.
Pelham said the firm got involved after staffers heard about the number of local people struggling to find enough food to feed their families. The food that will be given away has been donated by local businesses. In most cases, its extra stock or nearing its expiration date.
Every family that came got to take home a whole cart. Large families got two carts and there was still food left over, said Pelham.
Organizers are accepting donations to help pay the fuel costs of bringing the food to Caldwell. Find a donation link online at idahostatesman.com or send checks payable to Northwest Food Bank c/o Prosper LLC, 2922 E. Cleveland Blvd., Ste. 322, Caldwell ID 83605.
Pelham said shes also looking for volunteers individuals, church or youth groups, etc. to help with the giveaway on Oct. 18, as well as people who can help get the word out to the community. Call Pelham at 455-8144 for more.
MAD HATTERS HAT AND WIG DONATION PROJECT
This project, now in its sixth year, collects hats and wigs for the American Cancer Society. The organization passes them on to women and children being treated for cancer.
If youd like to donate a wig or a hat, donations will be accepted Oct. 15 to 31 at all D.L. Evans Bank branches and the American Cancer Society, 2676 Vista Ave. in Boise. Find other donation locations online, link at idahostatesman.com.
For more, contact project coordinator: Paula Miller: firstname.lastname@example.org.
SEARCH IS ON FOR IDAHOS TOP YOUTH VOLUNTEERS
Now through Nov. 6, Idaho students in grades 5 to 12 who have volunteered in the past 12 months can apply for 2013 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards.
The awards, sponsored by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals, recognize middle and high school students for helping the less fortunate, promoting health and safety, protecting the environment, or volunteering in other ways.
Idahos 2012 winners, Ariane Drake, 18, of Pocatello and Emily Kladar, 12, of Hayden Lake, each received $1,000 and a medallion.
Find an application online at idahostatesman.com.
Anna Webb: 377-6431