Dartmoor Prison, UK: its gardens are the exemplar of a successful horticultural rehabilitation project
“We sell the eggs in the prison shop,” says Northam. “The money goes toward their upkeep. Whatever is left goes back into the gardens.”
By Emma Inglis
18 Jan 2014
The gardens at Dartmoor prison are the exemplar of a successful horticultural rehabilitation project. In 2006, prison officer Ivan Judd had an idea to transform the disused exercise yards of the old punishment unit into vegetable gardens to be tended by inmates in the resettlement wing. Judd approached Business in the Community, who put in him in touch with the Eden Project. Jane Knight, landscape architect at Eden, was one of the first on board.
She recalls an early visit to see the site. “The yards were completely tarmacked, grey, and surrounded by granite. They were really grim.” Knight set to work designing areas of planting that would inspire. Some of her designs proved to be more inspirational than others. Her layout for a multi-season garden unintentionally took on a risqué edge. “I remember these two circular areas of lawn that appeared rather provocative when looked down upon from the prison wing above,” she giggles. Design aside, planning what plants would go where was pretty straightforward; governed by areas of shade and shadow and cool and warm areas within the walls.