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Rehabilitation through sourdough

The last thing you would expect at a drug rehabilitation centre is the smell of fresh bread wafting out of a commercial kitchen filled with people laughing and talking while kneading sourdough, ABC News reports.

But at the HOPE Springs Community Farm in Geraldton, 400 kilometres north of Perth, baking artisan sourdough is proving a successful form of therapy for participants attempting to overcome addiction.

Resident Paul Nicholls exudes pride as he explains the process of making bread, which is sold at the local markets and to restaurants.

“I’ve been here for six months and it has actually really changed my life around,” he said.

“I’ve been using meth for 22 years, so I came in here very lost and broken.

“A lot of my relationships with my family and friends were ruined, so I kind of had nothing left.”

The farm is based on the same model used at San Patrignano, a world-renowned recovery community in Italy.

It is all about helping participants who have lost their way, by teaching them new skills that boost their self-esteem and teach them to respect themselves and others.

At Geraldton’s community farm, around 10 residents work with each other: growing fruit and vegetables, raising chickens and doing the usual cleaning and cooking duties.

For resident Corey Dempsey it was the first place he had seen a change in himself.

“This is my third attempt at rehab,” he said.

“This one is completely different to the others so it is going well for me.

“I went to one in Darwin which is mostly for people coming out of jail through corrections so I didn’t really want to be there … then last year I was at another rehab and it wasn’t anything like this, it was a lot bigger, a lot more clinical.”


HOPE Springs Community Farm, WA, rehabilitating drug addicts with sourdough (ABC News)


The bread is made completely by hand from start to finish, teaching participants to slow down and to be patient. (ABC Midwest and Wheatbelt: Laura Meachim)