Doncaster social enterprise teaches offenders to grow their own food

Carr House Allotments
Carr House Allotments

A Doncaster social enterprise is working with offenders to teach them how to grow fruit and vegetables that are then handed out to low-income families living in the local community.

Carr House Allotments Social Enterprise (CHASE), the brainchild of Peter Beresford, has a contract with South Yorkshire Probation Trust and is delivering Doncaster’s only Urban Agriculture project from its base in Hyde Park.

“The project is all about encouraging people to grow more food in urban areas. We got involved with the Probation Service a number of years ago when we needed people to erect security fencing on the site,” explained Peter.

He added: “They provided a team of offenders doing ‘Community Payback’ to help us out. I thought then it would be good to get them working the allotments while teaching them horticulture skills and that’s exactly what we’re doing today.”

Peter set up an Allotments Association over 20 years ago.

Originally from Ireland, farming has been in his family for over 150 years. The Carr House Allotment site incorporates 135 plots, 12 of which are tended weekly by around 40 Offenders who are completing their ‘Community Payback’ hours. CHASE is South Yorkshire’s largest provider of City & Guilds Level 1 & 2 Horticulture Courses with over 60 students successfully achieving a qualification each year.

Continues Peter: “The fruit and vegetables we grow are given straight to the local community. From our volunteers and low-income families in the area to the offenders themselves, everyone gets to benefit from free, fresh produce.

“We’re now looking to further develop the site with our new commercial-sized greenhouse which will enable us to teach people Garden Centre and Nursery skills, whilst growing bedding plants to help raise funds for CHASE.”

Tony Appleton, Lead Social Enterprise Advisor for Doncaster CVS said: “CHASE brings residents and offenders, of all ages together to learn new skills and provide nourishing food for each other – it’s a fantastic example of a social enterprise!”