Gardening in prison

Gardening in prison

Prisoners at HMP Hull have scooped the Royal Horticultural Society’s Windlesham Trophy for the best-kept prison garden – the first time the prison has won the award.

The annual prize recognises the value of gardening within prison communities and has been running for over 30 years. It is hotly contested, with 18 prisons entering the competition this year.

HMP Hull, a men’s prison with over 1000 inmates, uses its gardens for prisoner rehabilitation and training, and many prisoners have gone on to achieve formal qualifications through their involvement. Each week, fresh produce is harvested for the prison kitchen with any surplus donated to a local food bank. Bird boxes made by prisoners have also been distributed to nearby schools.

The garden is tended by a team of about 20 prisoners and includes wildflower areas, bug hotels and bat boxes to attract wildlife as well as a memorial garden for staff and a colourful display of 10,000 bedding plants to welcome visitors to the prison.

The prison competed with three other finalists for the award: HMP Dartmoor in Devon, HMP Preston and HMP Wymott, both in Lancashire. Last year the prison just missed the prize, losing out to HMP and YOI Parc, a Category B men’s private prison and Young Offenders Institution in Bridgend, Wales.

“Congratulations to Hull on an outstanding performance,” said RHS judge Robert Haslam. “Their attention to detail was instantly obvious with consistently high horticultural standards met across all areas of the garden.”

The governor of HMP Hull, Rick Stuart, said he was extremely proud of what the prisoners had achieved.

“The fantastic oasis that the team have created demonstrates what can be achieved if people want to make it happen. It goes a long way to giving prisoners a sense of community and normality and provides staff with a far better working environment,” he said.