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OREM, Utah (AP) -- People who must give up growing fruit and vegetables because of Japanese beetles can get their greens from an unlikely source: the Utah County jail.
At the jail's 5-acre garden, radishes already are ripening.
As many as 50 families may qualify for free food from the garden, based on income, said Adrian Hinton, a county horticulture agent who advises the captive growers. "The Japanese beetle is a pretty serious threat," Hinton said.
The insect can destroy gardens, trees and turf and can significantly damage agriculture if not controlled, experts warn.
In a 12-block area in Orem, where beetles were found in August, the state plans to spray lawns and foliage. Residents have been asked not to grow fruit or vegetables for three years.
A beetle was confirmed last week in American Fork. Giving to the community is nothing new for the jail garden, which donated 22 tons of food to a food bank last year.
The jail has two full-time workers who seed the garden. Inmates who tend the garden typically move up to jobs in the community.
"Most of the guys who work in the garden, we don't see them come back," said sheriff's Deputy James Baldwin, referring to inmates who drop a life of crime. "It's therapeutic for them to get their hands in the dirt and think about their life," he said.
The Salt Lake County jail planted its first seeds this year for a similar garden.
Information from: The Daily Herald
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)