“As a rehabilitated offender who has had to navigate the stigma of being imprisoned and make a new life for himself, I saw an opportunity to promote Restorative Justice in South Africa and empower vulnerable communities to become self-sufficient. Through structured coaching programs and Urban Farming skills training, we’re hopeful that by working with the Department of Correctional Services of South Africa, we will start to see restorative justice becoming the norm and recidivism rates begin to lower”. Glen Meyer, The Urban Farming Cooperative.
The basis of successful reintegration and rehabilitation is for offenders to be self-sufficient once released back into their communities. In Nov 2020, Minister Lamola mandated DCS to return to a state of self-sufficiency with a priority on food security. This mandate speaks to both the current projects of the UFC, as well as to the future projects that are currently in discussion with the various Department of Correctional Services Facilities, namely the larger farming facilities; Leeuwkop and Pollsmoor. These projects will see the revival of the existing farming structures at these facilities (seedling nurseries, greenhouses and grow tunnels), as well as skills training to empower both the offenders and the members working in these units.
The Urban Farming Cooperative is participating in the clean-up because it is a crucial resource for Leeuwkop. Also, along the particular stretch of the Spruit we have chosen to clean, there is an abundance of aquatic and bird life that relies on the upkeep of their micro-ecosystem. Our motivation and all the work we do is with an eye on the future, for the offenders, for society, and in this case, the health of the Spruit waters that feed and maintain Leeuwkop’s farmland.