Fighting against social exclusion and working on the empowerment of the inmate community through the practice of gardening: those are the objectives of the “Vertical Horticulture, Horizontal Solidarity” project.
The project is held at the Prison Facility of Torres Novas, a little district close to Lisbon, and it is led by Upfarming, one of the CULTIVATE partners. On the 31st of May, the vertical farming has been officially inaugurated. It is made up of 40 modular agricultural towers up to 3 metres high which contribute to make the prison greener.
Based on the premise that access to adequate food is a fundamental human right, intrinsically linked to human dignity and social inclusion, Upfarming proposes this project to implement, develop, and monitor the entire process of the vertical vegetable farming. Furthermore, the project aims to increase food and environmental literacy within the prison facility, over the course of a year.
The vertical vegetable farming is characterised by innovative modular towers: these towers can be installed outdoors, inside a greenhouse, inside a building or on a terrace. With a maximum height of 290 cm, each one occupying 1 square meter, they represent a saving of around 95% in water and 90% in space, when compared with conventional agriculture*.
In terms of maintenance, it will be the inmates, working together with the prison guards, the ones responsible for managing the vertical farming. The food harvested will then have two distinct paths: inside the prison facility it will contribute to the direct improvement of the nutritional quality of the diets of inmates and staff through kitchen self-sufficiency and km zero production; outdoors it will support about 100 families in situation of extreme living vulnerability through the monthly distribution of 100 vegetable baskets.
Additionally, 4 workshops will be organised where the inmates and the staff will learn nutritious recipes specifically designed with the products grown in the garden. Furthermore, informative leaflets with recipes and practical tips on healthy eating will be produced and distributed along with the food baskets to the needy local population who will receive them at home.
*Information provided by Tower Farms
Photo credit: Upfarming