Having now devoted four episodes to covering the closure of Canada’s prison farms, this Part 5 of our coverage might mark a disappointing chapter for Canadians who have been hoping for a halt to the closures. While all six of these rehabilitative and job-training programs have been progressively dismantled over the past year, the August 9 removal of the dairy herd at Kingston, Ontario’s Frontenac Institution is being seen by many as a nail in the coffin.
This episode hears from supporters of the prison farms and the steps that the Save Our Prison Farms campaign took since we last covered this issue back in June. We’ll learn about the 500-person strong citizen blockade, which attempted to stop the removal of the dairy herd off the property, and we’ll learn about what next steps campaign organizers believe are necessary to maintain momentum and possibly turn the campaign into an election issue. Doing so might take advantage of the support of the Liberal Party and the NDP who have both vowed to re-open the farms should they be elected.
Thanks to CFRC Kingston for contributing interviews to this episode.
Andrew McCann, Urban Agriculture Kingston (Kingston, ON) – Andrew connects scholarship with community development through his work on global and local food systems. He is turning his masters thesis into a book which visions collaboration between the polarized worlds of “sustainable local food” and “agricultural biotechnology”. Cultural and environmental history underpin his writing, as well as his paid work in Kingston’s food system where he has been a CSA (Community Support Agriculture) market gardener, lab tech on the Canadian Potato Genome Project, and initiator of the National Farmers’ Union’s Food Down the Road: Toward a Sustainable Local Food System for Kingston and Countryside. He recently helped found the Kingston Urban Agriculture Action Committee which has been working with the City of Kingston to develop a progressive municipal policy on community gardens and urban farming. Andrew has also instructed Sustainable and Local Food for all Canadians – an on-line distance education course offered by St. Lawrence College.
Aric McBay, farmer, Root Radical Community Shared Agriculture (Howe Island, ON) – Beyond operating a small farm and CSA with his partner, Aric has also authored a number of books including Peak Oil Survival: Preparation for Life after Gridcrash. He’s the co-author of What We Leave Behind which he collaborated on with Derrick Jensen and he also co-authored the soon-to-be-released Deep Green Resistance: Strategy to Save the Planet – also a collaboration with Derrick Jensen and Lierre Keith.
Dianne Dowling, farmer, Dowling Farm (Howe Island, ON) – Dianne farms with her husband Peter on Howe Island – located in the entrance to the St. Lawrence River. The dairy farm is also home to a vegetable CSA operated by their daughter and her partner. Dianne is the Vice-President of the National Farmers Union of Ontario’s Local 316, representing farmers in Frontenac and Lennox-Addington counties and the city of Kingston.
Jeff Peters, farmer / director, National Farmers Union Local 316 (Inverary, ON)
Photos from the August 8/9 blockade in Kingston, Ontario