Inmates lend a hand to Farmer’s Market |

Inmates lend a hand to Farmer’s Market

A new form of community service is available for some inmates at the Pitkin County Jail – setting up and breaking down for the cooking demonstrations at Aspen’s Farmer’s Market.

Business owner Barry Gordon, who first came up with the idea for the weekly cooking demonstrations, said a friend of his came up with the plan to request help from local inmates.

“We’re happy to have this help from them – they’ve been terrific in supporting us,” Gordon said. “I’m really delighted about it.”

The public has flocked to the cooking demonstrations for the past seven weeks. The demonstrations feature chefs from local restaurants preparing food in Conner Park, alongside City Hall, and will continue through the last Farmer’s Market of this season.

Gordon said the inmates have helped set up folding chairs as well as tables and five tents.

“I’ve always asked for volunteers from the inception of this project and received little or none,” Gordon said. “The only people who have volunteered are my friends. We went to the jail thinking about how to get some help, since you can get physically tired putting this thing together every week.”

Pitkin County Jail supervisor Billy Tomb said the two inmates he sent along with Gordon last Saturday used the time to work toward community service requirements on their sentences. Tomb said inmates must earn enough good time to leave the jail.

“These aren’t inmates that are a flight risk,” Tomb said. “This is a work detail, and when they earn good time, they’ll get a work detail. The inmates we send have to be the appropriate inmates to be released.”

Tomb said the opportunity to help out at the cooking demonstrations will probably continue on an as-needed basis as long as there are inmates appropriate for the task available. He said community service is most often performed for nonprofit or community-oriented groups, and the cooking demonstrations were the right fit.

[Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is]

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