The green-fingered mile: gardening to sow seeds of jail rehab

Some hardened criminals may soon swap ‘Glocks’ for garden hoes to tend to begonias and dahlias.

The green-fingered mile: gardening to sow seeds of jail rehab

Green-fingered inmates will be getting down and dirty in the garden after the Irish Prison Service placed an order for thousands of flower seeds including fuchsias, petunias and violas. In total, the service is seeking tenders for the provision of over 19,000 flower seeds.

Inmates will soon be looking on as their Lobelia Erinus Rose Moon — a flower native to South Africa, Malawi and Namibia — flourishes under their care.

Other flowers that form part of the tender include the South American Petunia and a number of different varieties of the Begonia that is native to moist sub-tropical and tropical climates.

In total, the prison service has included 87 different varieties of seed.

The seeds will be nurtured in polytunnels at the closed medium-security Midlands, Wheatfield, and Castlerea prisons, as well as at low-security open prisons, Shelton Abbey and Loughan House.

Flower seeds are also to be provided as part of the tender for the female close-security prison at Dóchas in Mountjoy.

Prisoners in Mountjoy, Portlaoise, Limerick and Cork prisons will miss out on the experience.

According to a Prison Service spokesman, an average of 82 prisoners tend to the gardens/grounds /polytunnels across the prisons at any one time.

It is seeking firms to supply flower seeds over a two-year period.

Ireland’s best-known gardener Gerry Daly is in no doubt of the therapeutic value of gardening.

In an interview yesterday, the regular gardening contributor on TV and radio said: “Human beings have an innate connection to nature and the soil that pre-dates civilised communities being in place and we derive satisfaction, whether consciously or subconsciously, from gardening.

“No matter what the context, people working with the soil and nature will get benefit and enjoy gardening.”

The editor of The Irish Garden magazine added: “Working in the garden, you can see what you have done and there is a real sense of achievement in seeing what you have accomplished.”

The prison service said firms tendering must have annual revenues in excess of €100,000. The closing date for tenders is August 5.

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