Evolve Our Prison Farms (EOPF) is a Kingston-based initiative that arose during Correctional Service Canada’s public consultation concerning possible re-instatement of prison farms. EOPF proposes an “evolved farm” model of plant-based agriculture for prison farms. This model incorporates ecological sustainability, interspecies ethics, food security and public health, rehabilitation, and meaningful employment and community development opportunities.
To date, most of the grassroots organizing on the prison farm issue has focused on re-instating the old model of animal agriculture (dairy and egg farming), despite its ethical, environmental, health and financial costs. In particular, a highly sentimentalized (and euphemistic) discourse of prisoners engaging in ‘therapeutic’ and ‘caring’ relationships with animals has been promulgated, despite the realities of forcibly confining and inseminating animals, coercing them to work, separating cows from calves, and slaughtering and butchering animals. In what possible way is it ‘therapeutic’ for prisoners to be encouraged to ‘bond’ with animals while depriving, harming and killing them?
EOPF offers a truly progressive vision of ethical and ecologically responsible farming, and meaningful activity and life skills development for prisoners. In addition, the model includes a proposal to ‘save the herd’ – the descendants of the original Pen Herd that was sold off by the Harper government – bringing the cows home to live out their lives on the farms, contributing their browsing and fertilizing activity, and engaging with prisoners in genuinely mutual and caring relationships. In a city like Kingston, “evolved” prison farms could be the seed bed for renewed vision of sustainability and community.
EOPF is asking members of the public to visit the Evolve website, to learn about the issue, and to contact their MP and Minister Ralph Goodale (Public Safety) to express their views on the future of prison farms.
Please don’t delay, as this issue is expected to feature in Parliamentary debate in the coming months.