HMP Hull has won the RHS best kept prison garden in England and Wales. The association awarded the Windlesham Trophy for the first time for its efforts.
Named after its creator, Lord Windlesham, the annual award seeks to recognise the value of gardening within prison communities. 18 prisons entered the competition this year.
Housing over 1,000 men, HMP Hull uses its gardens for prisoner rehabilitation and training. Many have achieved formal qualifications – and support of the local community. Inmates harvest fresh produce for the prison kitchen with the surplus, enough for 50, donated to a local food bank. Crops such as lettuce, onions and beetroot help in supplementing diets in an area with high levels of obesity and diabetes. Bird boxes built by prisoners are distributed to nearby schools.
The garden, tended to by a 20-strong team of prisoners, also includes wildflower areas, bug hotels and bat boxes. It also has a memorial garden for staff, and a colourful display of 10,000 bedding plants including African marigolds.
An RHS judging panel, led by Robert Haslam with Fiona Crumley and Jon Wheatley assessed HMP Hull in July. The teams also judged the three other finalists; HMP Dartmoor in Devon, HMP Preston and HMP Wymott, both in Lancashire.
RHS judge Robert Haslam said: “Congratulations to Hull on an outstanding performance. Their attention to detail was instantly obvious with high horticultural standards met across all areas of the garden. The wonderful team spirit displayed from management through to the prisoners was incredible.”
Governor of HMP Hull, Rick Stuart said: “The fantastic oasis the team have created demonstrates what is achievable if people want it. It goes a long way to giving prisoners a sense of community and normality and provides staff with a far better working environment. I am extremely proud of them and what they have achieved, and for making our workplace that little bit nicer for all who work and live here.”
HMP Hull received the Windlesham Trophy, an engraved Green Goddess fire engine bell, during a ceremony at the prison on 15 August.