Offenders have been praised for helping maintain the grounds of Liverpool’s Rice Lane City Farm.
The 24 acre farm, off Rawcliffe Road, in Walton, is run by a charity and provides a wide range of educational and training opportunities for people across the city.
Offenders supervised by the Merseyside Community Rehabilitation Company carry out Community Payback at the farm. Tasks include cutting the grass, weeding and general grounds maintenance.
Community Payback is a sentence made the courts to people who have broken the law and involves them working unpaid to complete projects that are beneficial to the public. Community Payback supervisor Steve Hays runs the weekly groups that have been visiting the farm since September last year.
Maria Hornsby, farm manager, said: “Working with Community Payback has taken a lot of pressure off us because we only have a small number of part-time staff.
“Steve is amazing, nothing is ever too much. Many of our regular visitors have told me how pleased they are at the work being done and have noticed the change and physical improvements.
“I’ve also spoken with many of the men on unpaid work who are often then encouraged to bring their children here as visitors and that makes me so happy because that is exactly the kind of positive impact we are seeking to achieve.
“I also see the men picking litter and doing other things that are not strictly what they are here to do. They are going above and beyond the expectations.”
The farm, which was launched in 1980, also includes an old chapel and cemetery in its grounds.
Steve, who previously worked as a horticultural teacher in prisons, said: “Because of my background I’m able to teach our service users about their environment and land management as well.
“It’s a fantastic project because it’s long-term and so we can see the site develop over time. That really gets buy-in from our service users and helps with compliance.”