Article by: Hari Yellina (Orchard Tech)
On a sun-drenched morning in the Coffs Coast hinterland, a team of farm workers surrender to their task. Even though they look like any other agriculture worker, dressed in safety colours; dirt under their fingernails, but their real work is much more mental than physical. The actual job of harvesting blueberries and blackberries on the sprawling Adele House farm at Bucca is left to professional pickers, while the men who temporarily reside at the brand new 40-bed on-site facility gradually get accustomed to an everyday life, where the chores include cooking and cleaning, weeding the gardens and eventually more involved roles at the farm. It makes a change from their recent daily routines that involved a heavy dependence on drugs and alcohol.
Adele House is a temporary home to men that have fallen through society’s cracks, with many who ended up in front of the magistrate on drug-related charges of crime given another chance to turn their lives around without spending time in jail. The service, supported by the Payce Foundation and run by the Salvation Army, the Bucca facility is intimately connected with the working farm that produces food on part of its 405 hectares of land. In fact, Rob McCabe leads a small team of men through the job of preparing bushes for rock phosphate and mulch. It is only a little job and not for long because these volunteers are new to the program and are still taking little steps towards rehabilitation.
Some who get interested find themselves in the workshop, manufacturing implements for the farm. Meanwhile, a new venture in intensively-grown blackberries required capital that was sourced through the Payce Foundation. In return, this crop is likely to pay back its debts in just a few seasons, with excellent profits ploughed back into the purpose of the farm – raising young men to maturity. However, not all men are successful. Many have returned for another go, and to help those struggling on their first effort, alumni return for a Tuesday night barbeque to help offer some guidance while a quarter of the staff have themselves been through rehabilitation. Nevertheless, it is a helping hand for those in need.