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Martinsville City Jail inmates selling tomatoes at city's farmers market

Proceeds help reduce sheriff's office's impact on city's budget

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MARTINSVILLE – Martinsville City Jail inmates are selling tomato plants by the dozens.

Last weekend was the inmates' first at the Martinsville farmers market and they sold out.

This weekend wasn't quite as busy, but even so the Martinsville Sheriff's Office has already made enough money to cover the cost of growing the tomatoes.

"We carry two varieties, Brandywine Red and Better Boys, and they're both selling equally," said Martinsville Sheriff's Deputy Daniel Brannock.

The money made is used to fund the sheriff's office's greenhouse program, including purchasing more seeds to grow more plants, equipment, and maintenance of the greenhouse.

"We have the capability in our greenhouse to grow and start different plants, so now we're just trying to utilize that in a different way," Brannock explained.

The more money the sheriff's office can make from selling vegetables, the more the greenhouse program can expand and the more the sheriff's office can reduce its impact on the city's budget.

That's the ultimate goal of the program.

The bigger the greenhouse program, the more food the inmates can grow themselves, meaning the sheriff's office wouldn't need as much money to purchase food for the inmates.

"So far, so good. No complaints whatsoever. People are really turning out and helping us out," Brannock said.

Carter Underwood and his daughter stopped by Saturday morning to purchase some tomato plants.

"My daughter and I like to come here and shop for fruits and vegetables. But, as we walked down we saw them. They looked great. We've started our own little garden this year, she and I, and we thought it'd make a great addition," Underwood said.

At first, he didn't realize they were being sold by the inmates, but he likes the idea.

"It's nice to see those guys doing something positive and helping out," said Underwood.

The sheriff's office plans to have inmates sell other vegetables besides tomatoes, but hasn't decided what vegetables yet.


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