Prison ‘growth’ reaches milestone

by Mike Isle

For more than six years, men in Christchurch Men’s Prison at Rolleston have provided a weekly delivery of fresh seasonal vegetables to Aviva, a local family and sexual violence support service. This month the output passed 625 70-litre crates.

“Prison vegetable gardens are an important training and therapeutic activity for prisoners, and the skills they learn are beneficial for both the individual gardener and the community,” Corrections officer, Gerard Grout said.

“Our garden workers are very proud of their garden, the produce they grow and that their labours make a difference for families in need through Aviva.

“Even in winter, there are usually enough vegetables to make the run to Aviva worthwhile. This week the prison dispatched four crates of potatoes, silverbeet, cabbage, cauliflower, etc. During the warmer seasons — up to six or seven crates can be delivered.”

Aviva marketing and communications manager, Julie McCloy, said the vegetables are a weekly highlight for many families. “We see a lot of people who struggle to afford fresh veggies — and some who struggle to afford food in general. The vegetables from the prison are absolutely vital in making many families’ nutrition and budget much healthier.”

Vegetables grown at the unit include beans, beetroot, leek, cabbage, onion, rhubarb, spring onions, potatoes, sweet corn, radish, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, tomato, cucumber, pumpkin, broccoli, carrot, celery, parsnip, lettuce, garlic, turnip, silverbeet, spinach and peas. Other seasonal products include strawberries, lemons and raspberries. Produce is harvested, cleaned and packed in the 70-litre plastic bins for delivery.

The garden also propagates and grows seedlings for other vegetable gardens and the prison grounds.