Justice Home > Media & news

​Hunter inmates prepare for another veggie harvest

Issued: Tuesday, 22 November 2016

[PDF, 116kb]

Inmates at a Hunter region correctional centre have planted capsicum and pumpkin seeds in anticipation of a bumper summer crop, which will add nutrition and flavour to the more than 12,000 dinners made daily in the state’s prisons.

The 500-hectare vegetable and cattle farm at St Heliers Correctional Centre makes a big contribution to feeding NSW inmates, with cabbage and cauliflower seeds due to be planted over the coming months.

St Heliers Governor Bill Fittler said more than 40 minimum security inmates were involved in the vegetable growing and production.

“Inmates can gain TAFE certificates in agriculture as well as undertake traineeships in food processing,” Mr Fittler said.

“The inmates are provided with the skills and knowledge to be job ready upon their release.

“We have former inmates that are now working in food processing jobs post-release, which highlights the importance of these programs.”

“We need to get offenders on the right path and teach them to reintegrate into the community.”

Governor Fittler said the work at St Heliers saved Corrective Services NSW money through self-sufficiency.

“We save taxpayer dollars while also providing vocational training skills – we take food from the paddock to the plate,” Mr Fittler said.

“In the past financial year, the savings achieved from growing and harvesting our own vegetables was more than $135,000.”

Some vegetables require outsourcing. An average 10,000 tonnes of vegetables are prepared each week at St Heliers before they are sent to Goulburn, Dawn de Loas at Silverwater, the Mid North Coast and Cessnock Correctional Centres where inmates’ meals are produced.

In the past financial year, the following volumes of vegetables have been harvested:

  • Pumpkin: 23,112 kg
  • Cabbage: 8,815 kg
  • Broccoli: 11,655 kg
  • Capsicum: 6,015kg
  • Cauliflower: 11,455 kg
St Heliers is the biggest primary producer of beef and vegetables for CSNSW with an 800-strong cattle livestock operation.​