‘Growing Wild’ at HMP Foston Hall

Women at HMP Foston Hall received seed and fungi kits from the Grow Wild Project this year, sowing wildflower seeds and growing fungi under the enthusiastic leadership of their English teacher, Marilyn Carthy. “Give me a subject and I’ll make an English lesson out of it”, Marilyn says - her can do attitude is infectious and she is clearly well respected by the women who enjoy learning with her.

Mon 9 Oct 2017 - posted by administrator

Women at HMP Foston Hall received seed and fungi kits from the Grow Wild Project this year, sowing wildflower seeds and growing fungi under the enthusiastic leadership of their English teacher, Marilyn Carthy. “Give me a subject and I’ll make an English lesson out of it”, Marilyn says - her can do attitude is infectious and she is clearly well respected by the women who enjoy learning with her. 

The seeds were planted in the holocaust memorial garden, the Buddha garden and also created a wildlife garden in the grounds of the prison, while the fungi kit was in a box and ideal for the English class to follow the instructions and create the right environment for the mushrooms to grow. Learners had to tend to the box regularly by watering the straw until the mushrooms appeared.   

“I’d never grown anything before this” said one of the learners, “I thought I’d have a go and I like it, it’s a good laugh. My daughter, she’s 11 and she likes growing flowers. I’ve learnt stuff about growing in here that I can teach her when I get out.”

Another learner added, “It makes you feel nice when you see the flowers bloom, because you know that you’ve grown them from little seeds. You baby them, then you see the result of all your hard work and it makes you feel good. I’m going to get an allotment when I go home and grow vegetables and flowers. We haven’t got a garden at home, but I’m going to get some pots, make it look pretty.

I think that people who grow up in a city are missing out on the feelings of calm and wellness that you get from just being in nature. Just being in that environment, to be able to feel things, touch them and smell them, that whole experience in all those different senses and the feelings you get from it.”

This project had learners engaging with something they didn’t expect to have in an English classroom, providing lots of English and wellbeing related activities, plus inspiring the English department to look at growing other things in the classroom. The group even composed an email to persuade the cookery teacher to do a cookery demonstration and the ladies had the opportunity to taste the mushrooms too!

Categories: OLASS