CHARLOTTE COUNTY Fla.- Two years ago, Colonel Derek Snider knew he wanted to put in a hydroponic food garden at the prison. There was just one small problem, he had no money to do it. But snider was not going to let that slow him down.
"We set ourselves to challenge to see if we could do something like that with recycled material and no budget", said Snider.
Using empty food containers from the prison kitchen, old coffee can lids and anything else they could find in the trash. Snider, his staff and several inmates built an entire garden capable of producing as much food as a two-acre garden. They even created a small greenhouse entirely out of recycled materials. Snider and several of the other officers paid for a few materials out of pocket and soon the project was realizing a significant savings for the prison.
"Since 2009, we've grown 7,500 pounds of produce saving about $8,000," Snider told us.
The garden also has the added benefit of educating prisoners on how to grow their own food once they are released back into society. The prison won a Davis award last year which honors state programs that save taxpayer dollars. Now Snider says he wants to help other prisons around the state get similar programs up and running.