Parklea officer recognised for horticultural programs

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Parklea Correctional Centre Horticulture Overseer Sanjeev Kumar received a pleasant surprise on Australia Day when he was named Environmental Citizen of the Year by Blacktown City Council.

Sanjeev received the prestigious award in recognition of the many sustainable and environmental initiatives he has implemented at the prison.

These include:

  • Propagating plants for staff in a greenhouse he built from 100% recycled material.
  • Winning numerous awards over the past three years with fellow Overseer Fetaitai Patiole in the Blacktown City Garden Competition for Parklea’s gardens.
  • Providing local schools with tree saplings so they can learn about their environmental benefits.
  • Growing vegetables to donate to local charity Foodbank for hampers.
  • Creating a worm farm to save organic material from landfill and enrich garden soil.  

Parklea Correctional Centre Governor Paul Baker said Sanjeev was always looking for ways to improve the prison’s environmental footprint and give back to inmates and the community.

“Sanjeev has shown a real passion to implement sustainable practices across the prison, using meticulous planning and design to ensure safety, security, and practical horticulture methods are used and his projects are environmentally friendly,” Mr Baker said.

“He has successfully engaged with the Blacktown community on a number of projects to share his environmental philosophy, so it’s fantastic to see him being recognised for this tireless work.”

Blacktown City Mayor Tony Bleasdale OAM congratulated Sanjeev on his incredible contribution to the environment and sustainability.

“Sanjeev’s wonderful work at Parklea Correctional Centre was a stand-out in this year’s awards and he is very deserving of this recognition,” Mayor Bleasdale said.

“His fantastic contribution is an example of how acting locally when it comes to the environment can make a significant difference.

“I hope others will be inspired by Sanjeev’s efforts and follow in his footsteps – whether that be at home, at work or in the community.”

Sanjeev said he was honoured and proud to be recognised with the Environmental Citizen award.

“Being a first-generation migrant, I was overwhelmed to be acknowledged for my commitment and contribution to the community,” Sanjeev said.

“However, the success of my projects would not have been possible without the contribution of my colleague Fetatai Patiole and the inmates who work with us in horticulture.

“I am a firm believer in environmentally sustainable practices to reduce our impact on the earth and it is our moral and ethical responsibility to contribute to a sustainable future. 

“I cherish passing on my horticultural skills and knowledge to the inmates, as it gives them peace while incarcerated and instils in them the values of giving back to the community.

“Making a difference in someone’s life in a positive way affirms my role as a Correctional Officer and helps reduce reoffending.”

Sanjeev said he was most proud of his chemical-free green salad project. The produce is donated to local charity Food Bank.

He hopes to expand the garden so organic vegetables can be used in the prison’s kitchen for inmate’s meals.

“I also want to collaborate with local schools to initiate a tree planting campaign to reduce global warming.”

Sanjeev will now go into the running to become the NSW Environmental Citizen of the Year. MTC-Broadspectrum has managed Parklea on behalf of Corrective Services NSW since 2019.

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