Philadelphia, April 1, 2014 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter and City officials dedicated a 2-acre tract of land behind the Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center (PICC) on State Road for the Philadelphia Prison Orchard Project this morning. The land will be used to plant more than one hundred and eighty fruit-bearing trees and berry bushes, which will be donated by Philadelphia Parks & Recreation and the TreePhilly initiative.
“This project is great for so many reasons, but I am exceptionally proud that it combines so many of my Administration’s top priorities for our city,” said Mayor Michael A. Nutter. “The Orchard Project addresses increased sustainability and greening on City property, access to fresh, healthy foods in underserved communities, and provides opportunities for incarcerated individuals to earn valuable job-training skills before they return to our communities and begin their search for gainful employment.”
Volunteers from the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, prison personnel and inmates will plant and maintain the orchard throughout the year. The Orchard Program will support the prison environmental services program which teaches sustainability, recycling and composting. Inmates will receive vocational training and certification in areas like landscaping and horticulture, with the opportunity to possibly earn credit through the Community College of Philadelphia.
Produce that is grown will be served throughout the Prison System to promote the Department’s goal of increased sustainability and self-sufficiency. Additionally, if the orchard produces more fruit than the Department can use, the extra will be donated to local food pantries and soup kitchens in the City.
The Philadelphia Prison System has taken steps to become greener and more sustainable in recent years.
In 2008, single stream recycling was introduced, allowing the Department to recycle about 330 tons of waste every year, and a $15,000 EPA grant helped the prison system to start a composting project which diverts food waste from the trash to re-usable material for local greenhouses. These measures save the City money in the areas of trash collection and disposal and make the facilities greener and cleaner.
Due to these and other efforts, the Philadelphia Prisons System has been invited to participate in the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Food Recovery Challenge (FRC). The FRC promotes sustainability and conservation using environmental and economic best practices. The EPA’s Regional Administrator, Shawn M. Garvin, attended the groundbreaking event to present the Philadelphia Prison System with a certificate indicating that it is now a participant in the FRC.
“We appreciate the Philadelphia Prison System’s commitment to expand its food recovery efforts and create positive impacts for the community and our environment,” said Mr. Garvin, who welcomed the prison system into the Challenge. “This new partnership is indicative of Mayor Nutter’s environmental leadership and is one more, among numerous, sustainability initiatives the City can be proud of.”