Washington State Department of Corrections has embraced the challenge to improve sustainability in its facilities. Several prisons already have inmate garden programs. To build on this effort, they are launching a local produce purchasing pilot program at Stafford Creek Corrections Center in Aberdeen and Monroe Correctional Facility in Monroe for the 2010 and 2011 growing seasons. These facilities are calling for farms to participate as direct market vendors in the program. The Monroe and Stafford Creek facilities each have programs for inmate food processing and preparation. Farms will be encouraged to sell produce in a field-packed, unprocessed state in order to keep costs low and optimize the benefits to both buyer and seller.
The pilot will focus on the following high-volume products grown in Western and Central Washington:
- Romaine Lettuce
- Green Cabbage
Possible additional purchases include: Other root vegetables (parsnips, turnips, etc.), squash (summer and winter), greens (kale, chard, etc.), leeks, fresh corn. Sustainability programs at these facilities also include inmate garden projects and seek to educate inmates about food production and healthy eating. Participating farms will be asked to provide two educational visits per year to share knowledge with offenders. These sessions will be organized and facilitated jointly by WDOC and WSDA and provide facility staff and offenders dialogue with farmers, tastings of produce items (highlighting less common items or varieties to encourage acceptance of these foods in the cafeteria), and educational sessions in the prison gardens for those inmates working there. The local produce purchasing pilot is a joint project of the Department of Corrections, Washington State Department of Agriculture and the individual correctional facilities.
For more information, or to be considered as a vendor in the project, please contact Tricia Kovacs, Farm-to-School Program Manager, WSDA, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-256-6150.