Growing Out of Trouble by Monty Don
In 2005, Monty Don set up a smallholding where a group of prolific offenders - mainly drug addicts - would work on the land. If the project was a success, Monty planned a national network of farms with the objective of helping people in adversity through working the soil. Written with the skill and honesty that characterises all his work The Monty Project is a powerful account of the day-to-day trials and tribulations of young people with terrible problems. For Monty the project was an extraordinary journey during which he had to confront issues he had never encountered, while exercising all his traditional skills as a plantsman. There were desperate and bleak times - the first plot of land being blocked and the endless early struggles to engage the offenders with the project. But these made the achievements of planting and harvesting the first crops, a successful open day and one of the offenders passing his three-month point without reverting to his drug taking past feel all the more monumental. Monty's dawning understanding of the vast complexities of the offenders' life of addiction is a poignant example of the huge issues surrounding life in rural Britain. For Monty the project has become a personal commitment to the struggling communities lying hidden within the countryside. For the young people we get to know through Monty's vivid diary, it was salvation - literally, the difference between life and death.