I believe that nature can heal our social problems as well as our physical and mental ones.
I am certain that a society without respect for the natural world, the food it produces or the detail and ritual of the landscape is horribly impoverished. In my experience, when it comes to grounding, the earth is as a good a place as any to start.
It began in Summer 2004
The Monty Project began in Autumn 2004 as a trial project, a collaboration between Monty Don, West Mercia Probation Service, and the West Mercia Trust. The aim of the project was to take a small group of local people who had fallen out of society and become persistent offenders as a result of their drug addiction and to help them reintegrate and conquer their addiction by working with the natural world.
They have grown a wide range of superb vegetables, and produced their own organic meat and eggs. This produce has been eaten by themselves, their families and their neighbours as well as supplying a local farm shop.
In June 2006 the project had an open day with a Barbecue for locals, friends, families, as well as the probation service, police and magistrates who had had repeated criminal dealings with most members of the group. It was the first opportunity for the group to show everyone the hard work and dedication that had gone into creating the smallholding, and a chance to try the wonderful organic meat and vegetables grown by the group.
In Sept 2006 The Monty Project took a stall at the famous Ludlow Food Festival where they had a triumphant success, selling bags of fresh vegetables, herbs, home-made chutneys and pesto. Selling out on four occasions over the weekend and making many new friends.
Monty said “It hasn’t been the easiest of sites to work on; the land was prone to flooding and we probably had the latest Spring ever, but these were all things that were overcome through sheer hard work.
The group have learnt many new skills and through the winter months have built their own mess hut, installed water and land drains, laid hedges, cleared ditches and ponds, cultivated the ground, and now have a highly productive acre of raised vegetable beds.”
Monty has written a book “Growing Out of Trouble” based on this pilot project and the BBC also made a 5 part documentary which was broadcast in December 06.
COPYRIGHT © 2006 The Monty Project