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Fork in the Road, one of Middlesbrough’s top restaurants, is launching a scheme that will see prison-grown fruit and vegetables served to its customers.

The not-for-profit restaurant, founded by Teesside businessman and philanthropist Andy Preston, is developing its partnership with HMP Kirklevington Grange by taking some of the fresh produce grown by prisoners.

Andy had the idea when discussing with Governor Angie Petit the already successful arrangement that sees current prisoners and ex-offenders gain employment training during paid work placement prior to release at the restaurant.

The horticultural department at HMP Kirklevington Grange provides employment and vocational training for up to thirtyprisoners. The produce grown there is currently used and sold internally, but this partnership could potentially increase the number of prisoners that can apply to work in the gardens.

Andy Preston said: “We already accommodate a number of current and ex-prisoners from HMP Kirklevington Grange, and they contribute a great deal to our business. Building on the opportunities that this scheme provides, I thought it would be a good idea to support the prison’s horticultural project.

“A great deal of the prison population will not get the chance to work in the outside world before being released, so this project gives them valuable experience of working in a job that can see positive results from hard work. It also benefits the community as a whole, because prisoners are released wanting to make a positive contribution to society.”

Governor Angie Petit said: “We are already very grateful to The Fork in the Road for offering work placement to some of our men, and this really takes that partnership to the next level.

“There are a whole range of benefits the men can get from working in the gardens, it’s not just about learning to grow produce, it’s also about providing a calming environment for reflection and relaxation. This scheme could potentially see us expand that opportunity to more of our prisoners, if demand grows.”

The Fork in the Road was opened to provide opportunities for former prisoners, recovering addicts and the long-term unemployed. Profits made at the charitable restaurant are reinvested in its social mission.

HMP Kirklevington Grange is a resettlement prison for Category D male adult offenders nearing the end of their sentences. The prison, which helps to prepare men for release, allows some prisoners to work in the outside world in full-time employment and community work

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