An Evaluation of the Master Gardener Programme at HMP Rye Hill: An Horticultural Intervention with Substance Misusing Offenders

Geraldine Brown, Elizabeth Bos, Geraldine M. Brady, Moya R. Kneafsey, M. Glynn

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Prisons are increasingly looking for localised, innovative and collaborative approaches to address rehabilitation and full recovery from substance misuse. This article presents the findings from an evaluation of the Master Gardener (MG) programme, a gardening intervention with substance misuse offenders at HMP Rye Hill. Whilst the extension of the MG programme to a prison setting recognises a range of positive outcomes associated with the role of horticulture in supporting wellbeing, it also reflects Rye Hill’s move towards the development of a dedicated Recovery Unit, offering a suite of interventions to support substance misusing offenders. The MG programme at Rye Hill demonstrates an innovative and successful partnership, working with the charity Garden Organic, Public Health Northamptonshire and the Drug and Alcohol Recovery Team (DART), using horticulture as a means to address recovery. This paper sets out the evaluation’s aims and objectives, methodological approach, key findings and conclusions which include a number of recommendations. The approach taken has allowed for an examination of the process and experiences from multiple perspectives of the MG programme within a prison setting. As well as focusing on the impacts of the programme, the article reflects on gardening as an embodied practice and the garden as a space that promotes humanisation and self-worth, community, a connection to nature and a longer term, holistic approach to recovery.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-51
JournalPrison Service Journal
Issue numberMay 2016
Publication statusPublished - 5 May 2016


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  • substance misuse
  • offenders
  • horticulture
  • gardening

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