Long-time supporters of a federal prison farm program in Kingston are looking forward to the day when the animals will be returning to jail. The farm that ran out of the Frontenac Institution was once considered one of Canada’s best run dairy operations. It was shut down five years ago, after then-minister of public safety Vic Toews said inmates were not learning any relevant skills on the farm.
The animals were sold off, many of them to a grass-roots co-op with supporters like Margaret Atwood and Conrad Black. Mark Gerretsen, MP for Kingston and the Islands, says the decision to close the farm was weird and short-sighted. Working with the animals gave inmates core skills of teamwork, independence and responsibility.
Gerretsen is going to make sure the government follows through on its commitment to reopen the prison farm, at Collins Bay Penitentiary. The vision for the new farm is smaller scale, with opportunities for green energy, growing food for the homeless and food banks in Kingston.