A certified organic plot in the prison grounds is almost ready to be planted, says first officer in the support division of the prison service, Tutai Kopa.
The half-acre plot will be farmed with open-pollinated seedlings grown in a yet-to-be-built nursery. Funding for this will come from POETcom and the only delay to the project so far is the sourcing of organic timber to build the nursery.
“Once we have that nursery, we can sow open-pollinated seeds, and prep the ground for planting,” says Kopa.
Inmates will be taught the process he has learned through this week’s workshop on open pollination seeds, run by the Agriculture ministry.
“This could be invaluable in many ways and they can take home with them what they have learned.”
The organic plot will be farmed in addition to the traditional planting already underway and producing.
“We will start our organic plot with veges, and once we are underway with that we can move into fruit trees.”
Kopa says vegetables to be planted will include lettuce, bok choy, cucumber and capsicum and he hopes to be harvesting the first crops in about six months.
The organic crops will provide food for the prison inmates and staff and any excess will be donated to the hospital. Long term, however, Kopa hopes that they will be able to sell the open-pollinated seeds.
“There is a huge interest in open pollinated seeds and there is no guarantee in hybrid seeds. Open-pollinated seeds give a lot more areas to move into, more crops to take seeds from.
He says the overall success of the project, and organics in general, hinges on the whole project team working as one: “Then, it will happen”.