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ZAAD is a project which inspires prisoners of Esserheem to grow their own vegetables and herbs in their prison cell. Via the weekly grocery list Imke designed and included a bag (ZAADZAK) with instructions to give inmates  a fresh look on the possibilities within their food system. 
ZAAD promotes prisoners to take care and grow plants in their environment.


Is a project for Dutch prisoners to hack the system and eat more healthy.


Inmates receive a weekly grocery list to order products from. This limited list is inadequate and offers a little selection of fresh and nutritious goods.

Products on the list are expensive (normal prices) since payments within prison walls is 76 cents per hours. Inmates receive lunch and dinner so those products are seen as luxury. Imke's research shows how most of these earned payments go directly to call-credits and tobacco.

In spite of the provided meals, the boys in Esserheem cook every day. The inmates carry a wish for more nutritious food since a large number values their work-out during the afternoon. Meals which are provided by the government have a very low reputation. After steamed in the microwave for 1,5 hours it is called ''zwarte bakkenvoer'' (blackboxmeal), representing the zero nutrition left over in the dish.

The list of products is also inadequate since ethnical variety brought divers cooking culture into the prison which do not desire pre-packaged flavors.

drawings zaad-03.png

Imke designed a hack in the existing food system where inmates were able to start cutting and growing vegetables and herbs on water.

Water is transparent and thus allowed by safety measurements for objects in a cell. Soil would fail because of opportunities of hiding objects into the plants. With a deep dive in aquaponics (plants growing on water) prisoners were able to grow cuts or plants from their lists in their prison cell. Leek, spring unions, celery, basil, mushrooms, parsley and cabbage became popular options to grow. Inmates got creative and reused tomato cans and egg containers as pots.

What makes this project good is the growing satisfaction of prisoners who look after growing organisms which results in cheaper and healthier food to consume. Zaad stimulates resourcefulness and responsibility on a very low scale.

Imke has organized one evening where inmates were able to exchange herbs and vegetables to cook a collective meal.

Photo's of project ZAAD in use

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