What happened to gardens?

Maureen Hendrikse, Lakeside

Are any readers old enough to remember the agricultural gardens of Pollsmoor Prison?

In the 1970s/1980s, the prisoners planted and maintained a vegetable garden from the prison to the freeway.

They supplied a prison kitchen and ran a beautiful restaurant, which we regularly attended.

Past the women’s section was a big catering hall and many of us went for meals in a big canteen-type hall for magnificent food, all supplied by prison gardens, cooked by prisoners and served by prisoners.

These were ones who were due to be released, and they were learning to mingle with the public. All were extremely friendly and were learning to serve.

They spent many hours in open air working the gardens, with wardens attendant – far better than sitting in a cell. Everybody benefited. The prisoners, public and budget. No outside catering was required. What happened?

Lewies Davids, Pollsmoor prison spokesman, responds

Pollsmoor Management Area currently has a fully fledged agricultural section, which covers more than 20 hectares of land and functions as any farm would.

The agriculture provides vegetables on a large scale to the five correctional centres at Pollsmoor, which has a current inmate population which stands at around 7 450 on an average day.

The vegetables that are farmed on the largest scale are carrots and cabbage. However, there are a variety of other vegetables grown here as well.

The vegetables are planted, grown, harvested and processed here.

All the labour used in this process is done by inmates who have been allocated to provide agriculture labour under the supervision of correctional officials.

Most of these inmates are those who have short-term sentences and are not classified as maximum-security risk.

The preparation of these vegetables for consumption are also carried out by offenders in the correctional centres’ kitchens under the supervision of correctional officials.