by Bri Morningred, SPP Graduate Research Assistant and SPP Coordinator for Washington Corrections Center for Women (WCCW) conservation nursery
photos by Shauna Bittle
It was a beautiful day in Gig Harbor, WA, perfect for the celebration of the amazing sustainability programs at Washington Correction Center for Women (WCCW). We had prepared for the celebration for months, and it was gratifying to share with partners and the public the many contributions offenders have made to a sustainable prison community.
The tour began with introductions from the superintendent of WCCW, Jane Parnell, and from Carri LeRoy and Carl Elliott of SPP. The tour’s first stop was the Conservation Nursery hoop houses at the minimum security campus. Attendees had a chance to watch the conservation nursery crew at work, walk through the carpet of Indian paintbrush (Castilleja hispida) that was beautifully in bloom, and speak with the SPP staff and offender technicians about the conservation nursery program.
Next up was the community gardens on the way to medium security campus. This leg of the tour was led by Ed Tharp, who runs the Horticulture Program at WCCW. These gardens are in the courtyard area of the minimum security campus and grow a variety of foods that are harvested for the prison’s kitchen.
The final tour stop was in the concrete courtyard of the medium security campus. Located next to the education building—which houses the horticulture classroom, the floral program, and many other wonderful educational programs—there are various garden beds growing onions, garlic, and strawberries.
We ended with a poster session and awards ceremony in the gymnasium. We ate prison-grown salad and strawberries and cupcakes decorated with prairie flowers. Attendees toured informational tables for many of the sustainable programs at WCCW, including the Prison Pet Partnership Program, Mother Earth Farms, the Horticulture Program, Food Services, the Recycling Program, Sustainability in Prisons Project, and Center for Natural Lands Management.
It was wonderful to get to recognize the amazing things happening at WCCW. The prisons community is taking great strides toward sustainable living and it is inspiring to work with them towards that goal.