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Plant Propagation Inspires Prisoners

Tuesday 11 October 2016

Plant Propagation Inspires Prisoners

Learning about plant propagation was a highlight for one prisoner who graduated from Rimutaka Prison’s National Certificate in Horticulture (Introductory) Level 2 on Thursday 6 October.

“It’s quite interesting,” says James*, holding a pot with a hand-drawn picture of what a sparkling pink seedless watermelon would look like if it existed.

“I didn’t know much about this,” he says, speaking about plant propagation, but it’s clear the propagation unit standard has taught him what is required to apply for Plant Variety Rights to protect a new breed of plant and how to market this new variety of watermelon.

“I thought I knew a lot about gardening, but there is a lot I didn’t know that the tutor has taught us.”

James is one of 13 prisoners who graduated with horticulture qualifications in the prison on Thursday.

Rimutaka’s Principal Instructor Wayne Turner says the men should be proud of the work they have done to achieve their nationally-recognised qualification.

“The men have worked hard to achieve their certificates. Learning the botanical names for plants is never easy, but they persevered with it, along with identifying plants, botany and biology, soil science and propagation.

“They gained practical experience developing, growing and maintaining a large vegetable garden each. The produce is then donated to Upper Hutt Foodbank.”

The men received the National Certificate in Horticulture (Introductory) Level 2 and certificates for completing the Modular Training Programme (MTP) Plant Knowledge & MTP Soil Studies.

Two men received their National Certificate in Horticulture Level 3. In addition to their horticulture qualifications 15 men also completed the Work Based First Aid Training in August.

For Mark* who used to work on a farm, having increased knowledge about plants will help when he’s released, “I (now) know about all sorts of plants that can grow on the water side. It’s good to have plants on the waterways to help filter the water from farm run-off.”

Speaking at the graduation, Mr Turner said the prison’s horticulture courses had a high success rate, with 90% of the men who enter the courses passing. “The success of the courses are due in part to the group of dedicated instructors having a passion for horticulture, and men who want to learn.”

The six month horticulture course encompasses a morning classroom component that includes embedded literacy and numeracy. Subject matter comprises of botany and plant knowledge, soil science and propagation. The practical afternoon segment includes developing, growing and maintaining a large vegetable garden each.

Course graduates have work-ready skills to work in council parks and reserves, gardens and golf courses among other sites.

Reducing re-offending is Corrections’ top priority and by helping prisoners to learn skills and earn qualifications, it could help them gain employment on release. Research shows that getting a sustainable job can reduce the likelihood of re-offending and help create safer communities.

ENDS

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