- The S.C. Department of Corrections, in partnership with the S.C. Department of Agriculture and AmplifiedAg, Inc., received legislative approval to build a vertical farming facility at Camille Griffin Graham Correctional Institution.
- This is the first vertical farm to be located onsite at a correctional institution in the United States.
- The project aims to provide incarcerated individuals with career training in vertical farming and agricultural technology.
- The farm is expected to produce 48,000 pounds of pesticide-free lettuce annually for the institution’s food program.
- The $1.2 million project has received $350,000 in state funds, with the remainder expected from private donations.
In a groundbreaking initiative, the S.C. Department of Corrections, along with the S.C. Department of Agriculture and AmplifiedAg, Inc., has received legislative approval to establish a vertical farming facility at Camille Griffin Graham Correctional Institution, a women’s prison in Columbia, S.C. This marks the first vertical farm to be located within a correctional institution in the United States.
The vertical farming facility aims to provide incarcerated individuals real-world experience and career training in vertical farming and agricultural technology. The farm will also supply fresh, pesticide-free lettuce to the institution’s cafeteria, with an estimated annual production of 48,000 pounds. The $1.2 million project has secured $350,000 in state funds; the remaining amount is expected to come from private donations.
Vocational Training and Recidivism Reduction
SCDC Director Bryan Stirling lauded the initiative as a “win-win” situation, providing inmates with valuable job skills and supplying food for the institution. The project aims to reduce recidivism rates by offering meaningful employment skills. The facility will consist of eight farming modules: four for growing lettuce and four for food processing, logistics, and safety checkpoints.
Technology and Sustainability
The farm will use technology from Charleston-based agricultural technology company AmplifiedAg. The facility will have automated hydroponic growing systems, LED lights, and advanced software that controls environmental factors like temperature, water, air, and light. The farm is designed to use up to 95% less water than traditional field-grown lettuce, aligning with sustainability goals.
The vertical farming program aims to provide fresh produce, create a positive environment for incarcerated individuals, and offer STEM skills development. The initiative aims to contribute to South Carolina’s low recidivism rate and bolster the state’s agricultural workforce. AmplifiedAg CEO Don Taylor expressed the company’s intent to prove the program’s success and expand it to other institutions across South Carolina and the nation.
Image provided by AmplifiedAg