A BRIEF HISTORY
In 2011, Canada’s prison farms were dismantled under the former Conservative government’s “Tough on Crime” agenda. The farms were not financially sustainable and were tainted by numerous allegations of physical and sexual abuse against the farmed animals.
In 2018, the Liberal government announced it would restore prison farms, beginning in Kingston Ontario, claiming they will “emphasize rehabilitation” through “animal therapy” and “promote local sustainability.”
The former prison farms produced food for prisoners. Now prisoners will factory farm goats to produce infant formula for the Chinese market. This has nothing to do with rehabilitation, therapy, or sustainability.
Evolve Our Prison Farms has been active since 2016 advocating an ethical and environmentally sustainable approach to Canada’s federal prison farm program through innovative agriculture and animal-assisted therapy. Read the original proposal.
Message from our Founder (2017)
Message from David Suzuki (2019)
Examples of successful programs:
Sheriff’s Office Animal Farm provides a haven for animals where inmates are taught how to care for and care about animals in the hopes they will carry that lesson on in their lives once they are released from jail.
Prisoners in the UK care for goats as part of NHS animal therapy sessions to teach them to “take responsibility for others” and to promote “positive social activity”.
Organic gardening at HMP Rye Hill in England “helps inmates kick drug addiction” and “creates a space that is beautiful, peaceful, and conducive to reflection.”
Pê Sâkâstêw Healing Lodge in Alberta produces thousands of kilograms of vegetables grown and harvested by inmates for the local food bank to help “break that cycle of poverty.”
Planting Justice is a grassroots organization with a mission to empower people impacted by mass incarceration with the skills and resources to cultivate food sovereignty, economic justice, and community healing.
Farm and Rehabilitation Meals (FARM) is a project that hires inmates as farmers, teaches them sustainable agriculture practices and puts produce on inmates’ cafeteria tables.