A bountiful season for the Logan County Jail garden this year was celebrated with a favorite fall tradition — the Logan County Sheriff’s Office’s harvest lunch — which brought together co-workers, friends from other offices, community members and LCSO retirees Wednesday for a feast featuring many fresh produce items grown on site.
Sgt. Tim Klingelhofer, who led the project this year overseeing the jail garden with assistance from inmate workers, said the annual meal is one that the agency looks forward to, as a chance to catch up and just to be together.
“It’s fun to be able to serve the staff and gives everyone a chance to gather in one place, as we don’t often see folks who are working on other shifts,” he said. “It’s also a little reunion of sorts with the retirees coming back to visit.
“We enjoy getting to see our friends from other offices in the county as well.”
The sunny skies and temperatures near 70 degrees didn’t hurt the camaraderie at the cook-out, also featuring hamburgers and brauts grilled up by Vic Klingelhofer from Vic’s Country Cookin’ and his family.
“This is the best turn-out I’ve seen,” Sgt. Klingelhofer said of the meal, which likely dates back to about 2010 when the jail garden started.
The garden project began after then-Logan County Jail Administrator Lt. Greg Fitzpatrick and now retired Sheriff Andrew J. Smith heard of a similar initiative at a jail in Sandusky County, and traveled to that facility.
The garden is primarily cultivated by inmates, who earn “good time” credit by working there. The initiative also helps cut expenses in the jail’s food budget.
With supply issues and food shortages making headlines around the country this year, Sgt. Klingelhofer said the jail garden also helps to cut down on the facility’s need for food delivery trucks.
“We’ve frozen and canned many items and are ready for the fall and winter months ahead,” he said.
On Wednesday’s menu, many of the specialty sides were grown in the garden, from fresh green beans for the green bean casserole, corn on the cob, grilled peppers, hamburger toppers like tomatoes and onions, and ingredients for fresh salsa and chip dip.
“Our cooks find a lot of creative ways to use the garden produce in the meals served at the jail,” the sergeant said.
The culinary staff also were busy baking up a number of sweet treats, utilizing a plethora of zucchini for batches of double chocolate zucchini muffins, lemon zucchini muffins and zucchini bread, along with other desserts.
Also adding to the decor at the fall meal were pumpkins grown in the garden plot, a new venture this year.
“The pumpkins turned out OK; it is a learning process that we look forward to trying again next year,” Sgt. Klingelhofer said. “It’s part of our plan to host area kids here for a pumpkin search event.”