Log In

Reset Password

Westgate inmates grow their own food in farm programme

First Prev 1 2 3 Next Last
Eight Westgate Correctional Facility inmates are thriving in a voluntary programme to certify them in sustainable farming.Westgate inmate Jahmico Trott, instructor Chris Faria, Westgate inmate Detre Ford. Kneeling is Westgate inmate Jacquii DeSilva-Pearman (Photograph supplied)

Eight inmates at the Westgate Correctional Facility are sharing the fruits of their labour with the prison’s kitchen in a programme expected to offset costs and boost the nutritional value of food provided.

The men are taking part in a voluntary scheme to certify them in sustainable farming.

Michael Weeks, the Minister of National Security, said: “This is a fantastic initiative and yet another example of some of the positive developments coming from our correctional institutions.”

The programme is taught by Christopher Faria, the founder and managing director of the AgraLiving Institute.

A government spokesman explained: “During the weekly course, which began last October, the all-male group learned how to use sustainable farming methods to grow various food crops, including grains.

“The classes are taught mainly using hands-on learning methods and focus on growing healthy soil, the preparation of a garden, transplanting and sowing seeds, watering and gardening maintenance and composting and garden planning.

“Graduates of this curriculum will be able to use these skills to grow their food, find job opportunities in a growing field or start their own business growing and selling market vegetables.”

Eight Westgate Correctional Facility inmates are thriving in a voluntary programme to certify them in sustainable farming (Photograph supplied)

He added: “During this winter season, the students chose to grow oats, broccoli, carrots, cabbage, kale, onions, beets and sweet potatoes in their large garden situated in the central courtyard of the Westgate Correctional Facility.

“They have begun to harvest a few bags of produce each week, which are being used in the kitchen.

“As the garden and the students' skills continue to grow, more produce from the garden will be used to offset costs and significantly increase the nutrition of the food being offered.

“The project will supplement the produce output from the Farm Facility, which maintains the department's most extensive gardens.”

Andre Outerbridge, a former corrections officer, continued to instruct inmates and oversee the Farm Facility gardens after he retired from the department.

He is assisted by officer Winston Weekes.

The spokesman said: “The Farm Facility distributes its harvest among the three correctional facilities within the Department of Corrections.

“When there is excess produce that may spoil before the department can utilise it, those items are shared with care facilities around the island.

“The successful programme will soon be expanded to the Co-Ed Facility in St George’s.”

Mr Weeks added: "There is a body of evidence out there that suggests gardening skills can bring tremendous personal benefits to inmates.

"I applaud any initiative that attempts to interlink sustainable living and the natural world, which we sometimes forget about, with people undergoing life-changing transformations.

"I salute the participants of this curriculum for taking on a challenge to improve themselves and Christopher Faria for his leadership and inclusive approach to the community."

Eight Westgate Correctional Facility inmates are thriving in a voluntary programme to certify them in sustainable farming (Photograph supplied)

You must be Registered or to post comment or to vote.

Published March 07, 2023 at 7:41 am (Updated March 07, 2023 at 7:41 am)

Westgate inmates grow their own food in farm programme

What you
Need to
1. For a smooth experience with our commenting system we recommend that you use Internet Explorer 10 or higher, Firefox or Chrome Browsers. Additionally please clear both your browser's cache and cookies - How do I clear my cache and cookies?
2. Please respect the use of this community forum and its users.
3. Any poster that insults, threatens or verbally abuses another member, uses defamatory language, or deliberately disrupts discussions will be banned.
4. Users who violate the Terms of Service or any commenting rules will be banned.
5. Please stay on topic. "Trolling" to incite emotional responses and disrupt conversations will be deleted.
6. To understand further what is and isn't allowed and the actions we may take, please read our Terms of Service
7. To report breaches of the Terms of Service use the flag icon