6.35 am

Swallows are already flying high
Diving down over our flowering comfrey
LandWorks is open
And I catch a slightly odd smell.

I treasure this first hour
Not sure I want to admit it, I have a sort of ritual
I scribble notes and think about the day ahead, surprisingly detailed
Lost without it.

Will is first to arrive and we talk wood.
Graham’s next, cycling in, last month a trainee, this month part-time employee
Then Sarah, Monika, Sue and Sarah, proper busy
We plan, discuss and agree the day ahead; nobody mentions the smell!

Blue prison mini bus pulls up
Now we’re full; tea, coffee and chat
Snippets of prison life and last night’s telly
We plan, discuss and agree the day ahead.

Monika works with two men picking vegetables for the stall
Will oversees the workshop, making tables and breadboards;
Sarah works 1:1, he needs to talk, they knead clay to make a tile
Sue develops action plans for new men.

What is that smell?
I’m on the phone
Two men out on licence arriving by train.

I pick them up; we’re talking as I drive
If things are bad, I just drive around a bit
Today, there’s a bit of sniffing…
“What the f@#k’s that smell?”

Julie’s come to cook today, Sue on Tuesday
We have a rota and it’s always with one of the men
Cooking for 15
He’s 52 and worried, never cooked before…. It’s all fine, he gets a cheer.

A customer wants change of a tenner at the veg stall
Holding a bottle of ‘Comfrey Tea’ aloft for me to see
It’s not a drink
It’s a liquid fertiliser, our own brew with a particular bouquet.

The sun’s warming everyone; a good vibe today
Photographs capture the day’s achievements
But harder to confirm, improvements in peoples thinking about themselves
Smiles, chatter and laughter say a lot.

I walk to the gate with them, say our goodbyes.
Emptying the honesty box, tea selling well, its getting cool as the sun lowers
My jumper is old, warm and…
Ahhh, that’s it, the smell… fermented comfrey juice!