An Auchinleck woman has set up a new project which aims to create a safe green space where people can grow fruit and vegetables, break down social barriers and find unity in community after what has been a tough and exhausting year for many.

Leanne Withers, 36, heads up the Holistic Harmony & Horticulture Group who meet up on a daily basis at Berryhill Farm to escape from the daily struggles of the modern world and learn new, practical skills in the process.

Having come through her own mental health journey, Leanne knows all too well the stigma attached to certain mental health issues. After being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 2010, Leanne’s life was on a downward spiral as she battled depression and anxiety.

Leanne sought the advice of countless medical professionals before being put through Cognitive Behavioural Therapy where she learned to “reframe” her mind.

A referral to Dumfries House health and wellbeing centre further aided her road to recovery as it was there that she learned mindfulness, tai chi and other treatments centred on connecting back to nature. Now, Leanne is on a mission to help residents with their own struggles.

Cumnock Chronicle:

She said: “I’ve been off pills for a year and have kept improving my life and wellbeing. This led me into thinking about how people are sometimes judged for their choices and how they treat their trauma. I thought, this needs to be sorted out, how can we help people here?

“I contacted my MP Alan Brown and a lady who owned land nearby. I told her my ideas about mental health and she gave me a space so that I could create a community project where people can come together to grow fruit and veg in a non-judgemental place where you can be who you want to be.

“We’ve had a few families coming out to join us and they’re loving the spirit of the place. I spread my time between the Berryhill project and Auchinleck Community Shed so I share where I’m going to be and when on the Holistic group so people can come along to feel better.

“It’s about connecting back to nature, having a blether and listening to people’s problems to remind them they’re not alone in this world. If I get one person out the house this year, I’ve done a good job.”

Visit the group's Facebook for more information on how to get involved.