Ex-drug users take part in Stratford garden growing scheme

Former drug and alcohol addicts have been getting back on track thanks to a successful gardening scheme in Stratford.

Workers at the Drug and Alcohol Service for London (DASL) set up the Urban Garden project at their Romford Road headquarters three years ago and it has since attracted dozens of users.

Services manager Michael O’Dwyer said the project was so successful that they were now looking at selling off some of the products and ploughing the proceeds into expanding it.

Regulars have experienced all the benefits that come with healthy eating and putting their hands to something useful.

Mr O’Dwyer said: “The advantages that come from planting the bulbs within the garden and then seeing the results of that themselves are great.

“We have had a number of people who have showed an interest in joining the scheme. They work as a team.”

Each year the garden has grown vegetables, fruit and also a flowering and shrubbed border, made from recycled tyres. They also use growing bags to cultivate their crops.

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All the produce is distributed to the service users.

Mr O’ Dwyer added: “The real change is in people’s lives - this is about returning them to working with the community and seeing the benefits of that.”

The DASL has also been granted cash to buy cycling equipment and to develop service users skills around cycling and maintaining cycling equipment.