Parklea Correctional Centre has maintained its winning streak at this year’s Blacktown City Garden Competition, receiving yet another award for its green thumbs.
The award-winning team, led by Horticultural Overseers Sanjeev Kumar and Fetaitai Patiole, received the top gong for Best Edible Garden – Other.
This is the fifth year Parklea has entered the competition and has received at least one award each time.
To create the impressive gardens, which include edible plants, Sanjeev and Fetaitai enlisted the help of about 20 inmates. The program is designed to teach inmates valuable skills and they can earn a Cert II in Horticulture to improve their chances of employment when they leave prison.
The inmates are also helping those in the community doing it tough by growing lettuces, rocket, kale, cabbage and parsley for local charities, including the Harman Foundation and Care Van Blacktown.
A seedling program has also been established with 16 childcare centres run by Blacktown City Council so children can learn how to grow their own vegetables and help their families who might be struggling with rising grocery bills.
Sanjeev said receiving recognition from the council over the past five years motivated the team to maintain their high standards and gave the inmates a sense of achievement and pride in their work.
“The program helps with inmate rehabilitation and reduces re-offending through new skills they can take out into the community and put to good use,” Sanjeev said.
“It also gives them purposeful work to do and spending time in the gardens is good for their mental health and wellbeing.
“We are going to reward the inmates with a barbecue to celebrate their success.”
This year’s Blacktown City Garden Competition received 80 entries across 14 categories. They were assessed on design, construction, maintenance and sustainability.