Grow Sheffield & Abundance

In 2007 I designed and curated a series of harvest-time events in Sheffield celebrating urban food growing with an emphasis on the role of culture and creativity in marking the seasons and our relationship with food in cities. This included:

An open space event at the Showroom Cinema with international film screenings about urban food, including the Abundance film, for sixty people and co-hosted with Andy Goldring, Permaculture Association.

Allotment Soup, a celebratory cross-artform harvest event on allotment sites involving local and regional artists and performers.

Abundance (with forager Stephen Watts) a city wide community harvesting project re-distributing unwanted local fruit in collaboration (see below for more info*)

Reclaim the Soil (with grower Richard Clare) replanting neglected green spaces and planters in the city using permaculture techniques

Renga Ramble (with poet Paul Conneally) a participatory poetry walk moving between green spaces and allotments in the city

This series of events led to a surge of enthusiasm, locally and nationally and Grow Sheffield developed into a lively urban food activists network including social events, visits to other projects, training in horticultural skills and lobbying. Grow Sheffield evolved into a voluntary constituted group funded by the National Lottery Local Food fund and Arts Council of England. Allotment Soup took place over five years on a different city allotment site each year and Grow Sheffield pioneered a street level Community Growers scheme. In 2009 I mentored artist Bob (Ruth) Levene as artist in residence with this scheme and she created the Imagined Winter Garden Trail. I remained an active member of the core team of Grow Sheffield until 2012.

*Abundance continued to evolve and in 2009 Stephen Watts and myself wrote the open-source Abundance Handbook which can be downloaded free here. Abundance included training, advising and supporting new projects and giving talks and training to Transition town, community & growing groups across the UK. In 2010 Abundance was awarded the Observer Ethical Award in the Grassroots Category. The Abundance national network has its own website and groups continue to harvest including in Sheffield.