Evolve our Prison Farms (EOPF) is a Kingston-based coalition of citizens united by concerns about animal agriculture's profound ethical, ecological, and health costs. The closure and possible renewal of prison farms represents a unique opportunity to transition from animal agriculture to an "evolved" model centred in ethical and environmentally responsible plant-based farming.
Prison farms exist in a unique regulatory environment, the perfect setting to engage prisoners in truly life-affirming farming, to experiment with models of interspecies community, and to pilot innovative techniques in sustainable agriculture. Prison farms can form the foundation of a better, healthier, more sustainable and more compassionate future.
EOPF emerged in the summer of 2016 during the Department of Public Safety's consultation and public hearings process relating to the possible re-instatement of prison farms. Founding members include Sue Donaldson, co-founder of Queen's Animal Defence and co-author of Zoopolis: A Political Theory of Animal Rights, and Franceen Neufeld & Calvin Neufeld, co-founders of the Suffering Eyes Project supporting farmed animal sanctuaries across North America.
August 2016: EOPF co-founders Franceen Neufeld & Calvin Neufeld addressed the Kingston Town Hall meeting on prison farms hosted by Minister Ralph Goodale and MP Mark Gerretsen. According to a Kingston Whig-Standard reporter: "The community at large seemed to have come to a unanimous decision that the farms were beneficial, although there were a number who agreed with plant-based agriculture, but not the slaughtering or mistreating of animals, which they thought would negatively influence the inmates."
January 2017: The Evolve proposal was formally submitted to Minister Ralph Goodale and MP Mark Gerretsen.
January 2017: A Save the Herd petition calling for sanctuary for the Pen Herd cows was initially submitted to Minister Ralph Goodale and MP Mark Gerretsen with over 4,000 signatures. The petition remained open for ongoing signatures and was formally closed and submitted in December 2017 with a final tally of 12,928 signatures.
February 2017: EOPF representatives met with Kingston MP Mark Gerretsen to discuss the Evolve proposal.
May 2017: Briarpatch Magazine published an article The Herd at the Pen: The promise of animal sanctuary on prison farms.
May 2017: CFRC 101.9FM Queen's University Radio interviewed Sue Donaldson and Calvin Neufeld about the Evolve proposal.
May 2017: EOPF issued an open letter to Minister Goodale regarding the skewed composition of the government-appointed Prison Farm Advisory Panel.
June 2017: EOPF representatives met with Minister Goodale's policy advisor on prison farms to discuss the Evolve proposal.
August 2017: EOPF representatives formally presented the Evolve proposal to the Prison Farm Advisory Panel and staff of Correctional Services Canada.
September 2017: Launch of our Facebook campaign.
October 2017: Recruitment of Expert Perspectives.
November 2017: EOPF representatives met with the Inmate Committee at Collins Bay Institution to gather prisoners' perspectives.
December 2017: Save the Herd Petition March.
Next steps are ongoing.
Calvin Neufeld, co-founder of Evolve Our Prison Farms, is interviewed
for Canada's Penitentiary Museum oral history project "In Our Own Words:
The Links Between Kingston's Heritage and its Penitentiaries."
Kingston, Ontario, August 30, 2017.