Port Lincoln Prison program helping to build inmates' skills and raise funds

A program at Port Lincoln Prison is helping to plug a gap in the local market and also provide prisoners with skills that can be utilised upon their release.

For more than a year prisoners have been involved in a program growing flowers which are then sold to local businesses, or used to raise money for charity.

The idea to diversify industry at the prison came about through a desire to expand to new opportunities, with a wholesaler suggesting to grow flowers.

Up to 20 inmates work in the garden for up to seven hours per day, growing dahlias, carnations and dinner-plate-sized Teddy Bear sunflowers.

Port Lincoln Prison industries manager Grant Shepperd said the past 18 months had been spent finding out what worked best for the local area.

"We were looking at expanding and finding other viable opportunities to diversify from the garden," he said.

"In the past 18 months we have been developing the program, learning what to do and suits local markets in Port Lincoln.

"We are learning what to grow and what works well for us."

The prison grows a variety of vegetables throughout the year which are sold to local retail outlets such as cafes and hotels.

The flowers grown are sold to florists, while the seconds - flowers that cannot be sold to florists - are sold at local businesses, with proceeds donated to anti-bullying charity Dolly's Dream.

About $1500 has been raised for the charity, while the next round of donations are set to go to a local family whose toddler has been battling leukaemia.

Port Lincoln Prison manager Paul Oldacre said they had seen plenty of local sales, while they were also looking into selling to vendors in Adelaide and the Port Augusta region.

Mr Oldacre said in addition to helping the local community, prisoners were also picking up skills for the future thanks to a partnership with Tafe.

"The program also is about upskilling prisoners for use when they leave prison and they can go through Certificate I to IV in horticulture or agriculture," he said.

"This way they can make a valuable contribution to society rather than being left to their own devices."

Mr Shepperd said there had been plenty of support from the prisoners, who have taken the opportunity to learn new skills, and see it "as a bit of a challenge to grow the perfect flower".

"We definitely see the benefit, and by having a prisoner working they are meaningfully engaged," he said.

"Prisoners seem to be happy working and getting involved, and being rewarded with a sense of achievement and meaningful training."

Mr Oldacre said those involved took pride in their work.

"Through the effort and skills is something to show at the end of it," he said.

"Some prisoners really take ownership of that area, they are out there Monday to Friday, with a bit of weekend activity too.

"Recently we had a graduation day for the agricultural course through Tafe, with about a dozen who completed their Certificate II and one who completed his diploma - he is somebody you would never have thought, if you know them, that they would have a diploma, but he has put himself in a good position once he leaves."

Mr Oldacre said the prison was involved in other industries, including in the creation of oyster baskets and other work in the local aquaculture industry.