Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Growing for Life

Name: Growing for Life

Location: Dartmoor Prison, Princetown, UK

Years: 2004- Present

Funded by: Bromley Trust and Tudor, Lankelly Chase

Founded by: Eden Project

The Growing for Life program is a regeneration project, which began in 2004 at the resettlement wing of Dartmoor Prison. The Eden Project, supported by Bromley Trust, has been working closely with prison staff and prisoners to create fruit, vegetable and healing gardens in the centre of an exceptionally bleak environment. It has had a marked benefit on health, behavior and outlook within the prisons walls. They worked with Cisco to provide learning in prisons (in horticulture, enterprise, life skills, and computing) and a network of social businesses outside the walls to offer extended learning opportunities and jobs. During the summer of 2007, the team harvested their first crops and delivered them to the elderly and schools in Princetown; a marginalized community with a variety of tough challenges, amongst which is poor nutrition and health of young families and older residents. The program has been a great success both inside and outside the prison walls.

Now extended to a number of other prisons, the program has become less about a simple prison activity and more of a community enterprise, concerned with resilience and prosperity. The next phase of the Growing for Life project began at Occombe Farm in Paignton in January 2009 supported by Tudor, Lankelly Chase. It set up an organic market garden; a social business created and active in the region, based on growing and food production, but involving marketing, distribution, sales, teaching, catering, construction and maintenance – creating an integrated, supportive scheme. It receives people (who choose to participate) on release from Dartmoor, Exeter and Channings Wood prisons in addition to providing training, volunteering and employment opportunities for those at risk of offending, homeless people and those on probation – including providing an alternative sentence to custody. The network of social businesses within Growing for Life is set to expand and there is potential to evolve the scheme elsewhere in the UK.



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