“PRISON HONEY” – Urban beekeeping for rehabilitation and social inclusion
Slovenia’s Urban Beekeeping Association has been operating since 2013 in Ljubljana and its surroundings. It stands for:
- the development and promotion of urban beekeeping as an activity that contributes to the protection and development of the urban environment and improves the quality of life in urban areas,
- raising public awareness of the importance of urban beekeeping,
- increasing the amount of honey plants and trees in urban areas,
- improve the level of domestic self-sufficiency in honey and bee products and to connect urban beekeeping with other industries working to improve quality of life in cities.
The Association’s president Gorazd Trušnovec also authored and promotes the “Najemi panj” (rent-a-hive) professional initiative in Ljubljana, an innovative beekeeping service, which promotes greener, healthier environment, enables its citizens to be in touch with bees and raises awareness about the importance of beekeeping and honeybees for the whole system. Besides that, it enables better pollination in the city, and promotes environmental sustainability, with customers getting their own honey, produced on their rooftop terraces or backyard gardens. The customers vary from hotels, public institutions, private companies to regular citizens.
The pilot will be a unique new project for the Urban Beekeeping Association. The objectives of the project go beyond business opportunities and food production as such, as they also include social activation in its core. In fact, the project offers a way to rehabilitate and empower underprivileged groups of society (it is aimed at imprisoned persons) primarily in Ljubljana, with the possibility of spreading the business model throughout Slovenia. “We hope to turn the pilot into an example of good practice and show the therapeutic potential of beekeeping as a craft, vocation or occupation,” says the president of the Association, Gorazd Trušnovec. Beehives will be installed firstly in one prison in Ljubljana and training will be offered to inmates, with the aim of providing the prisons with own honey and other bee products, create more humane and socially inclusive conditions within the penalty system and make it an example of good practice for other prison facilities in Slovenia as well as beyond.
For the implementation of the pilot project within the FoodE initiative, we cooperate with the Prison Administration of the Republic of Slovenia (URSIKS) and we jointly agreed on the implementation of the “Prison Honey” project in the Ljubljana Prison, Open Department Ig. We will place the beehives in the garden of the Open Department in the spring of 2021 and at the same time start the beekeeping training.
Between December and February 2021, we conducted two student seminars / competitions with the Faculty of Design in the desire to place our beehives in the prison’s garden functionally, aesthetically and in accordance with good practice of landscape architecture. The first seminar was intended for the design of appropriate pedestals for the beehives (they cannot be placed directly on the ground) and was held under the mentorship of prof. dr. Jasna Hrovatin and co-mentorship of Gorazd Trušnovec. An expert jury, composed of (landscape) architects (Jasna Hrovatin, Gorazd Trušnovec, Andreja Zapušek, Nina Granda) and the head of the Open Department Prison Ig, Hermina Androjna, chose the proposal of student Amadej Bezovšek from more than two dozen very interesting solutions. The winning proposal will be implemented in April 2021.
The second seminar was intended for students majoring in Visual Communication at the same faculty. Under the mentorship of Asst. Nataša Šušteršič Plotajs they prepared visual templates for painting the beehives so that they would be as attractive to the eye as possible. Inmates from the Ig Department involved in the training will be able to choose the templates from the nine proposals that were selected as the most suitable from the set of student assignments, and use them to paint their beehives.
External publications featuring the pilot:
In collaboration with FoodE partners:
Urban Beekeeping Association of Slovenia / Društvo Urbani čebelar (SI) and University of Bologna (IT)