Chance to tour groundbreaking prison project

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A project which has seen prisoners turn a derelict site into a thriving farm and garden education centre will open its doors to the public in two events this summer.

Visitors can tour the Farms and Gardens site at HMP Spring Hill near Grendon Underwood at open afternoons on Tuesday, May 14, and on Tuesday, June 11.

The training centre is helping prisoners gain qualifications, as well as supplying fresh produce to commercial customers and local people, and offering members of the public training and short courses ranging from beekeeping to food hygiene.

Project leaders say the initiative is making a real difference to people’s lives, not just the prisoners, but their friends and families as well.

They say the project also helps businesses the farm and gardens buy from, those who it supplies fresh produce to, and members of the wider community who benefit from the reduced likelihood of reoffending when the prisoners are released.

Once the tour is over, visitors can stop off at the HMP Spring Hill farm shop, where the site’s own produce and other locally-produced goods are sold.

The not-for-profit enterprise started around three years ago, and has had support from the Big Lottery Fund’s Local Food Programme.

Around 40 prisoners were able to get qualifications in the first year of the Spring Hill Farms and Gardens programme.

The open afternoons run from 2pm to 4pm, with visitors’ sign-in at 1.45pm. To book a place, email tracy@springhillfg.co.uk or call 01296 770511.