by Chrissy Hancock

This innovative project is designed to enable people recovering from substance misuse to regain confidence and self belief, while gaining knowledge and practical transferable skills in the inspiring environment of Trill Farm’s garden, kitchen and wood workshop.

Every Thursday since March, participants have been arriving with sleeves rolled up, ready to get stuck into the day’s activities lead by tutors Chris Onions, Naomi Glass, Ellen Rignell, Ruth Thomson and Sam Robinson. Over this period of time an incredible amount has been achieved. With gardeners Naomi and Ellen, they have developed and built a productive kitchen garden and designed a crop rotation appropriate for the plot, during which they have learned key horticultural and animal care skills. In The Old Dairy Kitchen with Chris, they have used the lovingly nurtured produce to create feasts of healthy nutritious food, whilst also developing culinary skills and key food hygiene and safety skills. In the wood workshop, they have received basic DIY training from Ruth and Sam as well as designing and crafting a variety of beautiful wooden items. In addition to this they have attended a variety of employment skills workshops and life coaching sessions.

The project has delivered a huge amount over the last 10 months, but its real success are the participants who have thrown themselves into the project whole heartedly, relishing the opportunities presented. The feedback from them has been inspiring; whether it’s a comment as simple as ‘Trill makes me smile’ or that they feel accepted as part of the Farm’s community, to nally nding their niche or giving them a sense of direction. They are leaving Trill at the end of the day empowered and enthusiastic, with more knowledge and skills than they arrived with and the odd ache and pain from their hard graft during the day!

Our biggest challenge now is to find funding for the next stage of the project. This will be an evolved version of the good foundations already laid but with a focus on the kitchen and garden. At the start of the project five participants will attend a two day per week course, running in nine week blocks with a week of work experience in the tenth week. On completion of the nine weeks they will have learnt the skills to become a kitchen and garden mentor and will return after their work experience to mentor the next five participants. This process will repeat itself over 40 weeks, allowing 20 people to be involved and for those participants to leave the project having reached tangible goals in their training and achieving qualifications in first aid and food safety and hygiene. Chris would also aim to employ the participants for events that he runs to provide them with experience for their CV.

Trill is an inspiring place with inspiring people and it provides the perfect setting for this kind of project, allowing participants to develop in a safe, supportive and very real environment.

The project is run by The Trill Trust with support from RISE Recovery and is funded by Devon County Council through their Community Impact Support Scheme.