Grow Sheffield and Abundance
In 2007 I initiated 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 devising and running:
An open space event at the Showroom Cinema with international film screenings about urban food (including the Abundance film) for a capacity audience of 60
Allotment Soup, a cross-artform harvest event on allotment sites involving local and regional artists and performers
Abundance (with Stephen Watts), a city wide community harvesting project re-distributing unwanted local fruit
Reclaim the Soil (with Richard Clare), replanting neglected green spaces and planters in the city using permaculture techniques
Renga Ramble, a participatory poetry event on green spaces and growing in the city, with poet Paul Conneally
This series of events led to huge enthusiasm for the project, 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 and is now Lottery Funded. Allotment Soup is now in its 5th year taking place on a different city allotment site each year. Grow Sheffield is also pioneering a street level Community Growers scheme. In 2009 I mentored artist Bob 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 until 2012.
Abundance continues to evolve and in 2009 Stephen Watts and I wrote the Abundance Handbook which can be downloaded free here. This work also includes training, advising and supporting new projects and giving talks and training to Transition, community & growing groups across the UK. In 2010 Abundance was awarded the Observer Ethical Award Grassroots Category. The Abundance national network now has its own website.