Coffee shop chain’s prison project

December 22 2014

BOSTON Tea Party in Gloucester Road has added a new range of mushrooms to its menu - produced by inmates at Dartmoor prison.

BOSTON Tea Party in Gloucester Road has added a new range of mushrooms to its menu - produced by inmates at Dartmoor prison.

For several months the coffee shop has been working alongside Horfield social enterprise group, Green Shoots, which has established a food-growing hub in the prison to teach offenders skills in horticulture.

Oyster mushrooms are now being grown by the inmates, made from used coffee grinds, supplied by BTP, and recycled by Green Shoots.

The project is run from several unused prison cells at HMP Dartmoor.

The dark and slightly damp conditions provide an ideal environment for growing.

A strict policy is implemented on who can work with Green Shoots, with the majority of those involved having been in prison for a long time.

Prisoners mix mushroom spores with the grinds, which are then bagged, watered and left to grow for around six weeks. Mushrooms are then returned
to the Gloucester Road BTP branch, where they are then used in recipes.

Grow-your-own boxes,which produce two or three harvests, are also available to buy from the coffee shop.

The Gloucester Road venue is the only BTP to serve the mushrooms, with hope of introducing them on menus across its other 14 stores in the future.

Ben Hibbard, marketing manager at BTP, visited HMP Dartmoor to meet the team behind the Green Shoots scheme.

Ben said in a blog post on the BTP website: “All of [the prisoners] are incredibly knowledgeable on the subject. Considering they all come from a variety of backgrounds and have little or no experience in horticulture, it’s amazing the skills they have picked up.

“[The] success [of the project] is best shown by the passion the inmates have for it. When I talked to them, all my preconceptions and prejudice fell away, as I saw how much they were learning and the satisfaction it gave them.”

He added: “We serve around 12,000 coffees per week, and when coffee grounds are dumped into landfill they create methane, a greenhouse gas more harmful than carbon dioxide.

“So by sending our grounds to HMP Dartmoor, we’re not just helping the Green Shoots project, but reducing our waste.”

Green Shoots, established in 2013, has recently won the European Sustainability award for the project, as well as had several other UK prisons looking to replicate the scheme.

For more information about the scheme, visit: www.greenshootsassociates. To watch the ‘Mushroom Redemption’ video, visit:

Make your own oyster mushrooms