OCALA, Fla. -- A small group of Marion County inmates are doing more than just serving time -- they're also helping grow and take care of the food they eat in the jail.

  • Marion County Inmate Work Farm is in Ocala
  • It houses 2,000 chickens, more than 60 pigs, 50 cows
  • Inmates tend to animals, which end up in jail meals
  • Sheriff's Office says it saves up to $850,000 a year

The Marion County Sheriff Inmate Work Farm is located at the corner of County Road 35 and County Road 464 in Ocala and is home to more than 2,000 chickens, more than 60 pigs and about 50 cows.

"I feed them, (and) I make sure they eat good and turn the water sprinklers on when it's real hot outside," said Antonio Clay, who is one of the inmates who works on the farm.

He works in the hog program. 

Every day, Clay feeds the hogs with leftovers from the kitchen in the jail.

The leftover food is boiled for 30 minutes in kettles, and officials say once it's cooled down, it's safe to feed to the hogs.

While the pigs are eating leftovers from the jail, eventually, those pigs will be eaten by the inmates.

"It recycles, everything recycles. The food come from the jail, we feed them and then it come back to us," Clay said.

Officials say the farm was started so inmates could grow their own food, reducing the overall cost of feeding them.

"Everything we grow and raise here will be sent into the jail for inmate consumption," Sheriff's Sgt. Mike Joyner said.

There's even a basic poultry class that's offered to the inmates.

"Not only are we helping save what it costs to feed the inmates in the jail, we are teaching them something that they can use when they get out of jail," Joyner said.

Officials estimate cost savings at about $800,000 to $850,000 a year.