Thank you for your interest in the Evolve Our Prison Farms campaign to establish innovative, rehabilitative, and environmentally sustainable plant-based prison farms in Canada.

CFRC Radio Evolve Our Prison Farms

May 11, 2017. Kingston, ON. CFRC Queen's University radio interviews Sue Donaldson and Calvin Neufeld of Evolve Our Prison Farms campaign to establish plant-based prison farms in Canada enhanced by farmed animal sanctuary. www.evolveourprisonfarms.ca 

No credit is claimed for images used in this compilation. Collins Bay Prison Farm photos credit The Kingston Whig-Standard www.thewhig.com. Pat Kincaid photo credit Lars Hagberg, The Canadian Press. Dairy farm photo sequence credit Jo-Anne McArthur, We Animals www.weanimals.org.

Open letter expresses concern over skewed prison panel

May 17, 2017

The Honourable Ralph Goodale
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario Canada K1A 0A6

Dear Mr. Goodale,

We are writing to express concern over the process and composition of the panel appointed to advise the government on re-opening Kingston’s prison farms. Five of the eight panel members are livestock farmers, making it clear that only animal agriculture is under consideration.

Alternative proposals to establish innovative and ecologically sustainable plant-based farms have been presented to your government on numerous occasions. These voices have been excluded from the panel. We are formally requesting that the composition of the panel be reviewed in favour of a more transparent and balanced process and we call for the inclusion of voices representing forward-thinking plant-based agriculture.

As we have documented in previous submissions, there is strong evidence that a plant-based prison farm would be better for prisoners, animals, the local community and the environment. Yet it appears that the panel has been set up in such a way as to preclude consideration of this option. This is puzzling given the challenges identified by your government’s own consultants in their “Report on the Town Hall Meeting on the feasibility of re-establishing penitentiary farms at the Joyceville and Collins Bay Institutions” dated August 16, 2016, which stated that reinstating a dairy farm: 

“may be unrealistic given preliminary estimates of its expense,” and “the operating costs of maintaining the penitentiary farm program as they were, while they were operational, were found to be prohibitive for CORCAN. The capital costs associated with re-establishing the farms as they were could make it even less feasible.”

Given the demonstrable benefits of a plant-based prison farm, and the acknowledged infeasibility of reinstating dairy farms, we urge you to carefully consider the skewed composition of the committee, and to appoint additional voices to the panel. They could include farmers from Kingston’s vibrant organic plant-based farming community, experts in the rehabilitative potential of human-animal relationships (including sanctuary), and ecologists specializing in sustainable farming practices.

A citizen advisory panel appointed by the federal government must aspire to a high level of balanced representation and commitment to evidence-based policy recommendations. Given that several members of the panel have already made clear that their single-minded goal is reinstatement of animal agriculture, the panel as it stands fails the test.

We call on you to ensure more balanced representation and less biased consideration of the options. The restoration of the farms is eagerly anticipated by the public. In our haste, let us not overlook opportunities and advantages that may lie in previously unexplored possibilities for the future of our prison farms.

Yours sincerely,

Sue Donaldson, Calvin Neufeld, & Franceen Neufeld
for the Evolve coalition

c.c.    Mark Gerretsen, MP, Kingston and the Islands
         Hon. Matthew Dubé, NDP critic for Public Safety
         Hon. Elizabeth May, Green critic for Public Safety
         Hon. Erin O’Toole, Conservative critic for Public Safety
         Don Davies, MP, Vancouver Kingsway
         Media Contacts

A New Voice on Prison Farms Emerges

Kingston, May 6, 2017 – Evolve Our Prison Farms (EOPF) is a community coalition with an exciting and forward-looking proposal for the re-instatement of prison farms, and its vision is garnering wide support.

EOPF has submitted to Ralph Goodale, Mark Gerretsen, and other legislators a model for plant-based prison farming that prioritizes ecological stewardship, meaningful rehabilitation and employment programming for prisoners, and community development and food security. Evolved farms would focus on production of nutrient dense vegetables, legumes, fruits, grains, nuts and seeds, using approaches that are ecologically sustainable, technologically sophisticated, and consistent with changing community values around healthy lifestyles, food security, and respect for animals and the environment. Evolved farms could be established at a fraction of the cost of re-instating animal agriculture on prison farms.

EOPF recognizes a place for animals on evolved farms – but in much smaller numbers, and engaged in activities which don’t involve commodification and violence. For example, animals could provide fertilizer, pollination services, or participate in non-exploitative roles. The remaining members of the former Kingston Pen Herd could be returned to the prison farms under a model of sanctuary, offering the opportunity for prisoners to care for animals, and to work alongside them, without harming them. 

“Canadians want prison programs that offer meaningful opportunities for psychological healing and growth, and a path to reintegration,” notes EOPF member Sue Donaldson. “Forcibly inseminating cows, separating them from their calves, and slaughtering male calves, ‘spent’ dairy cows and chickens, are activities which have no place in prison farm programs. With everything we know about the psychological damage suffered by slaughterhouse workers, and the connections between slaughterhouse work and domestic violence, it would quite simply be irresponsible to consider re-instating dairy and egg farms at prisons. Stewardship of plants, the environment, and genuine care for animals through a sanctuary model, on the other hand, offer genuine therapeutic benefits.”

A recent petition garnered thousands of supporters for this vision of humane and sustainable prison farms.

“I find this proposal exceptionally sensible and heartening,” writes signatory Toni Pickard of Kingston. “My concern is more on providing helpful skills, both functional and attitudinal for the prisoners than on saving the animals but the two are very persuasively allied in this plan. If this plan were adopted for prison farms, we will have taken giant steps forward in rehabilitation techniques, while providing prisoners an experience of what it takes to begin to create a healthier, sustainable, compassionate world.”

Farming practices need to evolve to feed a growing population in a world of finite land, water and other resources. Compared to animal agriculture, plant-based farming involves much lower energy and water use, greenhouse gas emissions, and pollution. If Correctional Service Canada decides to re-establish prison farms, it makes sense to anticipate where farming (and farm jobs) are headed, rather than to chase a disappearing past.

Media Contact:

Calvin Neufeld

General Inquiries:


See also:

The Herd at the Pen: The promise of animal sanctuary on prison farms
Briarpatch Magazine, May 2017

Sample Letter of Support

The following letter, submitted by one of our supporters, is an example of how you can help promote the Evolve proposal. Shared with permission.

From: NM
Sent: March 21, 2017 9:09 AM
To: info@evolveourprisonfarms.ca
Cc: minister_ministre@agr.gc.ca; justin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca; ralph.goodale@parl.gc.ca; Mark.Gerretsen@parl.gc.ca; elizabeth.may@parl.gc.ca; Matthew.Dube@parl.gc.ca; Erin.OToole@parl.gc.ca; jane.philpott@parl.gc.ca
Subject: The Evolve proposal for plant-based prison farms enhanced by Sanctuary.

YES!  I absolutely support the Kingston-based coalition of citizens united by concerns about animal agriculture's profound ethical, ecological, and health costs.

This is exactly what we should be doing for prison rehabilitation, any rehabilitation, any farm.
This IS a unique opportunity to transition from animal agriculture to a more responsible model based on ethical and environmentally sustainable plant-based farming. 

And applied more widely, THIS is the way to ensure we reach our urgent climate change goals, create good innovative jobs, improve our health and produce good food, clean our waterways, lower farm operating costs and chemical soil pollution, spare billions of innocent beings the cruelty and injustices callously inflicted on them, reduce the level of violence in the world, help feed the poor, connect with our true values and soothe aching souls. 

We need to get on-board with this because THIS is the future that should have been all along.
The planet needs this, people need this, and god knows the animals need this.

I tip my hat to the Kingston coalition of citizens for this comprehensive and thoughtful project and I ask our Ministers to do the math and see how this farming model will serve us all.


Montreal, QC

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