The testimonial of a man who discovered the health benefits of gardening while serving his sentence at HMP Dumfries. Reproduced with kind permission of the author and Scottish Prison Service officers.
The loss of liberty and freedom is the most traumatic and life changing experience. You lose everything that makes you who you are. It began a period of self-analysis that made [me] very aware of my mental health.
From that point of despair, I found a new hobby when I started work in the garden party at HMP Dumfries.
I learned very quickly that not only did I enjoy the fresh air and hard work but that it was a positive and very productive use of my time in the prison environment. With the support of the Gardens Officers I set about learning as much as I could about horticulture. I achieved SQA qualifications in gardening skills and hope to continue my education upon my release. The qualifications I achieved in the work part helped me gain the position of head gardener and as such the respect of my peers as well as staff.
The feeling of self-achievement I get from growing a seed and watching it germinate and grow into a plant are most certainly new to me. It’s ironic to think that if I look after myself to the same standard I will also thrive.
I am soon to be liberated and can honestly say that without the skills, knowledge and understanding gained from my time working in the gardens at HMP Dumfries, I would not be feeling so positive about my future.