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For 17 years the Cook County sheriff's garden program donated its produce to food banks and churches; while this still continues today, the challenge has always been how to make the program self sustaining..
The recent $149,000 addition of a greenhouse was financed by money generated from inmate commissary purchases and allows for gardening year-round. The inmates are now using their horticultural skills at growing smaller, high quality plants that are high in demand in the food industry. In 2010 the garden began selling to local restaurants, including Charlie Trotter's, The Publican, Blackbird and Avec.
Restaurants interested in a local source for micro-greens such as arugula, mustard greens and basil are finding just what they need inside the walls of the Cook County Jail!