The South Carolina Department of Corrections, joined by the South Carolina Department of Agriculture and South Carolina-based AmplifiedAg, Inc., has received legislative approval to build a vertical farming facility and training program at Camille Griffin Graham Correctional Institution, a women’s prison located in Columbia.
This initiative marks the first vertical farm in the United States to be located onsite at a correctional institution, a news release stated. This modern agricultural operation will provide incarcerated individuals with real-world experience and career training in the fields of vertical farming and agricultural technology. In addition, the farm will supply fresh, healthy, pesticide-free lettuce — estimated to produce 48,000 pounds of lettuce per year — to the institution’s cafeteria and food program.
“This partnership is good in so many ways,” SCDC Director Bryan Stirling said in the release. “Inmates learn job skills while providing food for the institution. We see this as a win-win. We appreciate the legislature’s continued support in fostering innovative programs to improve our prison system and keep the public safe by helping reduce recidivism.”
The $1.2 million project received approval for $350,000 in state funds from the State Fiscal Accountability Authority. The remainder is expected to come from private donations. The facility will be built by program partner and Charleston, S.C.-based agricultural technology company AmplifiedAg. The farm facility will use the same technology and modular growing infrastructure as AmplifiedAg’s commercial, non-profit, and government research partners and will be fitted with enhanced security for the safety of incarcerated persons and employees. The farm facility will consist of eight total farming modules: four modules for growing lettuce and four support modules for food processing, logistics, and food safety checkpoints.
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