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Prison farm shop to sell inmates' produce

A charity is setting up a farm shop at a prison to sell produce grown on site to the public.

The Oswin Project, set up to help ex-offenders, will also take over the management of HMP Northumberland's gardens.

Chief executive Fiona Sample (pictured) said the shop, set to open on 28 June, would prevent produce normally grown for prisoners being wasted.

The prison, near Acklington, houses about 1,400 male inmates.

"A lot of produce grown here used to go to waste and we'll make sure everything grown here gets used," Ms Sample said.

The charity, which also runs Café 16, a commercial bakery and café inside the prison, said the farm shop will be located near the visitor car park.

It will sell fruit, vegetables, plants and baked goods from the prison's bakery, all at a fair price to avoid "undercutting" other businesses in the area, it said.

Profits will be reinvested towards the gardens and its work.

Ms Sample said: "We hope to be able to provide produce from there to sell in our farm shop, to our café outlets and perhaps even veg boxes to the wider community.

"Any surplus will go to foodbanks," she added.

The charity hopes to break this cycle by giving inmates skills and qualifications through working at the café and the prison's horticultural section.

Dave Huntley, a horticultural instructor, has been working at HMP Northumberland for the last two decades.

He has helped former inmates find work in the horticulture and agriculture industries after their release.

"It's been difficult moving some of our surplus produce away, and getting good use out of it," he said.

"As residents come to an end of their sentence, if they're as well behaved as they have been with me, we'll recommend they move on to the Oswin Project and see if they can get work through the charity."


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