Growing food on a greater scale: WSP’s Institutional Sustainability Garden

By Joslyn Rose Trivett, SPP Education and Outreach Manager

Beautiful heads of cabbage grow in Washington State Penitentiary’s main garden. Photo collage courtesy of Jim Atteberry, Facilities Manager.

Outside of the prison fences, Washington State Penitentiary (WSP) tends 10.5 acres of crops. This is the prison’s Institutional Sustainability Garden, and it’s the largest and most productive of all the prison gardens statewide.

This is a view from the garden looking back up the hill at the prison facilities. Photo by Bethany Shepler.

In 2017, the crew harvested 151,470 lbs of vegetables — that’s more than 75 tons. They donated 9,655 lbs to local non-profits. The rest went the prison kitchen, improving the taste and nutritional value of the meals. Producing the food on site also saved $122,677 worth of purchasing. 2018 was somewhat less productive year, the weather wasn’t as good, but still the garden produced ~110,000 lbs. Both years, WSP’s vegetable harvest was about half of the total harvest statewide…pretty amazing if you consider that eleven of the twelve prisons grow food!

This September, the crew harvested cabbage, squash, bell peppers, banana peppers, green peppers, tomatoes, and radishes from the fields. They also tended to the plants and pulled out weeds.

In mid-September, the crew attends to weeds in the Institutional Sustainability Garden. Photo by Bethany Shepler.
Earlier in the growing season, the fields are full of vibrant greens. Photos courtesy of Jim Atteberry.
A crew member talks with Garden Supervisor
Daniel Randolph; from Jim Atteberry: “Daniel and Shawn Treib supervised this year’s Institutional Garden, they both did an outstanding job during a tough period of time.” Photo by Bethany Shepler.

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