Just in time for Thanksgiving, 700 pounds of potatoes were delivered today to the Salvation Army and the St. Vincent de Paul Society, courtesy of a unique gardening program at the Prince George Regional Correctional Centre (PGRCC).
The gardening program, which has operated at the PGRCC for more than 25 years, gives inmates the opportunity to grow potatoes, onions, tomatoes and other seasonal vegetables. Once harvested, they are shared with local soup kitchens and food banks. Throughout the growing season, the centre works with numerous community organizations to donate food to people in need, while at the same time provides inmates with new life skills, positive experiences, a chance to give back to the community and a greater sense of purpose.
Inmates work in the greenhouse and garden plots - both of which are located on-site at the correctional centre. Correctional officers supervise and operate the program, assigning duties to the inmates, who are taught basic gardening and horticulture skills by a qualified instructor.
The PGRCC also recently donated a greenhouse built by inmates to the Cedars Christian School gardening program, which teaches children to grow and harvest veggies, sharing the crop with the Prince George Food Bank and St. Vincent de Paul Soup Kitchen.
Suzanne Anton, Attorney General and Minister of Justice -
“Programs that bring learning, life skills and community service together not only teach inmates to grow their own skills, it allows them to feel the joy that comes from giving back, which is a gift that cannot be underestimated. Through self-esteem-building programs like this, we are able to show inmates a different way of living, which helps reduce the likelihood of re-offending.”
Shirley Bond, MLA, Prince George-Valemount -
“The gardening program gives inmates a sense of satisfaction and makes a positive difference in our community. The inmates are given meaningful work and are taught to look outward, while those in need throughout Prince George have more fresh produce on their plates - a real, tangible connection between members in our community.”
Mike Morris, MLA, Prince George-Mackenzie -
“As a member of the RCMP for more than 30 years, I can tell you that I have seen first-hand what a difference programs such as these have in the community - for many it means the difference between a life of crime and successful re-integration into society. To have a program that enriches lives both on the giving and receiving end really is a win-win for Prince George.”
Phil Chafe, deputy warden, PGRCC -
“I’ve seen both the inmates and our staff get great satisfaction from loading up this huge mound of potatoes onto the truck to give to local charities. It’s a great outcome to share our harvest with people in need at local food banks after all of the hard work the inmates put into learning gardening skills and harvesting the vegetables.”
Neil Wilkinson, corps officer, Prince George Salvation Army -
“The gardening program at the Prince George Regional Correctional Centre has been making a real difference in our community, giving back to those in need by putting food on the table for those who may be struggling. I know many families will be giving thanks to the centre’s inmates and staff this Thanksgiving for their efforts and generosity.”
Bernie Goold, chair of the board of directors, Prince George St. Vincent de Paul -
“The fresh produce that we receive from the correctional centre is such a luxury for the people we serve, and goes directly to supplement our daily meal programs, our family food hampers, and our fresh fruit and veggie hampers.”
- A number of work programs across B.C. are providing inmates serving their sentences an opportunity to make a positive, local impact while gaining work experience.
- In August, the gardening program at PGRCC donated 240 pounds of food to the local Salvation Army to help satisfy the continual need for fresh produce to supplement the donation of canned and packaged goods.
- The Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre has a greenhouse and gardening program, as well as an arborist program in partnership with Thompson Rivers University. This fall, the centre donated its gardening program’s fall harvest to the Kamloops Food Bank, Women’s Shelter and Canadian Mental Health Society.
- Nanaimo Correctional Centre provides bike repair services to the Compassionate Resource Warehouse, a volunteer organization that supplies refurbished bicycles to families in impoverished countries.
- BC Corrections partners with the SPCA to help train inmates at the Alouette Correctional Centre for Women in animal handling, in a program that rehabilitates stray dogs for placement in the local community.
- Recently, inmates working in the tailor shop at Surrey Pretrial Services Centre sewed warm coats for dogs that are sheltered at the Surrey Animal Resource Centre.
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Justice