Shelf Life Art Exhibition- Michael Borkowsky

Michael Borkowsky has contacted us about his forthcoming solo exhibition at the Gage Gallery (Part of Kelham Island Arts Co-Operative) in Sheffield, from 28/02/14 – 12/03/14.

‘Shelf Life’ explores the role of food in art. It seeks to re-imagine the genre of still life painting in order to make it relevant and accessible in the 21st Century – encouraging a questioning of what we perceive as holding value and highlighting how our experiences should not be dictated by vision. I also acknowledge how food and art are able to inform each other as they run parallel in our consumer culture.

A primary concern of mine is the practice of paint making – and the tension between the possibility of raw paint and the notion that meaning can be extracted from raw paint before it has been applied to a surface. My Paint Making Workshop will give participants the opportunity to create paints of their own – using food and egg yolk. I begin by discussing my work, before giving a working demonstration of the paint making process. After a refreshment break the participants will be able to create paints of their own and apply them to a surface.

Mapping disused spaces

We have started up a Crowdmap to try to map disused spaces, vacant plots, derelict sites and other locations where community action could help turn such land into local amenities, such as community food growing sites or parks.

This is a development of the work we did earlier in the year with the Everyday Growing Cultures project and inspired by the land advocacy work of 596 Acres over in Brooklyn. We are hoping that people will get involved with this project in two main ways:

1. Add reports to the map. Do you know of a plot of land in your community which is disused or vacant and which could be put to better use? You can add information about the site to the map by filling in a simple form.

2. Start to organise activity around a site. If you see a site on the map which you’d be interested in trying to turn over to community use, you can start by commenting on the report on the map to notify people of your interest and start a conversation about it.

It is very early days so far, but we’re hoping to begin to build up a picture of the land across the city which could be an asset for the community and provide a starting point for people to organise around it.

Mapping Wild and Free Fruit

We’ve recently happened across this Wild and Free Fruit Google Map which encourages people to participate in mapping wild fruit trees and bushes around the country. The Abundance Project has added a few Sheffield places, some with fruit ripening now!

To help edit the map, you need a free Google account. Once logged in, go to the map web address and you should see an edit button

View Wild and Free Fruit in a larger map

Mapping Walk

Mapping Walk

On the 18th June, we ran a mapping walk in conjunction with the University of Sheffield Everyday Growing Cultures project. We started out at the Riverside and made our way around part of Pitsmoor, exploring patches of land which could be used for growing space, as well as sources of wild food.

Here is the route we took, along with some brief notes and photos of the walk.

View GS Mapping Walk June 2013 in a larger map

Our friends in Manchester, the Kindling Trust, have also been part of this project. They were interested in the work of 596 Acres in Brooklyn, who mapped all possible available growing space in the borough. The Kindling Trust did a similar exercise on a smaller scale in Old Trafford, collecting data on patches of waste ground, grass verges, alleyways and other pockets of land which could theoretically be used for growing fruit & veg (here’s their mapping report).

For Grow Sheffield, we are starting to think about how mapping could be used to help people to find growing spaces, food projects and wild food in their neighbourhoods, as well as helping connect people who are interested in organic food growing. So we used our guided group walk around Pitsmoor to stimulate our discussion about all the ingredients and steps required for communities to establish local food growing, and to get us thinking about the role mapping could play in Grow Sheffield’s projects and wider work. We’ll have more to say about this in the coming weeks, with more events and opportunities to get involved.

Thanks to Farida and Steven from the Everyday Growing Cultures project for working with us so far. If you’re interested in the point where urban food growing meets data and digital engagement, then the Everyday Growing Cultures end of project event in Sheffield on 23 July might be for you. And it’s free to attend – register here

‘Beyond The Veil’: Hives, honey and homicide!

Fancy yourself as a poirot? Perhaps you”re more Morse? Or maybe you”re just looking for something to do next Saturday afternoon? Come along to Grimesthorpe Allotments on Saturday 1st June at 1pm for “Beyond The Veil”; an outdoor play that promises to feature “hives, honey and homicide”!

The play starts at 1pm, and it”s free to all, although a collection will take place after the showing. 

What’s your role in the future of Grow Sheffield?

Over the past few weeks we’ve been putting the finishing touches to our new volunteer roles. We’re delighted to finally pull back the curtain and reveal all! From blogging to fruit preservation; These 8 roles will be key to the future of Grow Sheffield. So, if you want to contribute to an organisation that is aiming to celebrate, inspire and raise awareness of local food issues, whilst continuing the transformation of Sheffield into an urban food growing landscape, these roles could be for you.

You’ll need to commit to around four hours a week. However some roles, such as the Abundance Area Coordinator,  may involve more or less commitment at certain times of the year due to the seasonal nature of the project. If you’re interested, you will be asked to fill out an application form. If you meet the role specification, we will then arrange a time to meet up, have a chat, eat biscuits and find out more about each other.

These roles hold real responsibility within the organisation, and we hope they will make a great addition to any CV. We will provide the utmost support for our volunteers: from an on-site induction to organising role-specific training.

If you’re passionate about local food and want to really make a difference, take a look at the roles today and get in touch.


More information? Contact Tom on 0114 2580784 or email [email protected]

Our Community Growers head to Manchester to visit other urban food growing projects

 In April 2013, thanks to an exchange visits grant from The Local Food Fund, staff and volunteers from Grow Sheffield’s Community Growers project had the opportunity to visit some urban food growing projects in Manchester.

We were really lucky to have Kirstin and Chris from The Kindling Trust organise the day for us, showing us around various projects across the city and provide a delicious lunch and refreshments. We started at the Kindling Trust HQ where Kirstin and Chris gave us an overview of their projects and shared their passion for supporting food growing in Manchester.

Some of their projects include:

  • Feeding Manchester: a website that maps food growing in Manchester.
  • The Land Arm: takes volunteers out to farms to help with the labour, connecting people with where their food comes from and getting much needed help for the growers.
  • Manchester Veg People:  this is a co op of organic, local growers to bring buyers and growers together. They have lots of buyers including shops, cafes, restaurants, universities and they even have a waiting list of people wanted locally grown produce.
  • Farm Star: renting 2 acres of land at Abbey Leys farm, this has been split into 8 starter plots for people who would like to get into growing commercially. The idea is that this leads onto people getting more land and increasing the amount of food grown in Manchester.
  • Commercial horticulture course: training people to grow food commercially.
  • Trafford mapping project: linking growers with IT people to map all of the growing spaces in Trafford.
  • The Big Dig: along with Grow Sheffield, The Kindling Trust is one of the partners in The Big Dig organising a lot of interesting growing projects and volunteer opportunities in Manchester.

Feeling thoroughly inspired by The Kindling Trust our first visit was over the road to Hulme Community Garden Centre. In the middle of an extremely deprived area we walked through a well stocked garden centre shop into a beautiful oasis. Jamie the centre manager told us the ins and outs of the funding and showed us around an immaculate site buzzing with people and toddlers. They have an amazing garden on top of a container, such a good idea for brightening up what is usually a grim looking structure. From here you get a good view of the rest of the garden which has a high spec straw bale classroom, raised beds, insect hotels, and an extremely luxurious compost toilet. They also have a beautiful structure made from reclaimed materials designed and built by our very own Sheffield University Architecture students as part of their Live Project. The nursery was very well stocked and we left with plants, blue potatoes and seeds. We would all love to have somewhere like this on our doorsteps in Sheffield.

After dragging the team away from the garden centre shop we then popped over to Orchard 49. Debbie met us on the community allotment plot which is being used to show people how to grow fruit in small spaces. With the assistance of The Northern Fruit Group they run grafting courses and grow different tree forms.

Even in Britain’s rainiest city they have to put irrigation pipes next to the trees, they use an interesting method of burying pipes covered with small holes into a loop next to the tree where you can just water into the top of the pipe.

After a delicious vegetable soup made by Chris, we headed over to Moss Side Community Garden to meet local residents Leisa and Nadira.  In the heart of an estate that has a terrible reputation for crime I felt like I was stood in a Swedish designed housing community. Nestled in between newly built houses is a large area of raised beds, chickens, sheds and a pond. This is a place with exciting plans and Nadira and Leisa were bursting with enthusiasm and ideas and the garden is a real hub of the community.  I can’t wait to pop by to see it full of crops in the summer.

 When we arrived at our next destination “Miles Platting”, Manchester lived up to its stereotype with a sudden downpour of rain.  Isobel from Adactus (a social housing company) climbed into the bus dripping wet to tell us about the project. In another highly deprived area they received funding from The Local Food Fund to put in a garden. In between showers we popped out to see a large area with brand new raised beds surrounded by blocks of flats. The launch of the garden is coming up, whereby locals will be invited to start using the space. It was interesting to see a brand new project and we will be keen to follow its progress.

Our final stop was “Northern Quarter Greening”. In a car park behind Piccadilly in the centre of Manchester are some beautifully kept raised beds, fruit trees, and compost and wildlife areas managed by people who live in the flats. This is a really stunning sight right in the city centre showing what can be done in an urban space.  Just as we thought it was all over we stumbled across Louse Vegas, a series of insect hotels next to a multi storey car park in the Northern Quarter.

The team left Manchester feeling inspired and full of ideas for what we can achieve in Sheffield.  We want to say a big thank you to The Kindling Trust for organising the day and to all the projects for their time showing us around and to The Local Food Fund for funding the trip.

Community Grower

Do you have an idea for a neighbourhood growing project or a piece of land that you would like to develop with the community? Maybe you’re interested in helping to start these new projects? If so, Grow Sheffield are looking for voluntary ‘community growers’ to develop new and existing food growing projects in local communities across Sheffield. Our volunteers will oversee the creation of community growing activities in neighbourhoods across Sheffield. You’ll work closely with the project leader, Community Grower Coordinators and Grow Sheffield Staff Team to ensure that we’re developing appropriate and engaging projects that makes food growing interesting and accessible. Maybe you need help and support to develop your project, or perhaps you would like to play an active role in the community. This role could be for you.

Our Community Growers will work to facilitate community ownership of the project, whilst referring to Grow Sheffield for support and advice when needed. You will be responsible for organising training for those who need it, promoting your project in the local area and engaging with the community.

You’ll be representing us, but you’ll also become an integral part of the future of Grow Sheffield. As a Community Grower, you’ll play a key part in ensuring that we are being thorough in all that we do. An interest in, and knowledge of urban agriculture, and in particular food growing, is essential. We will provide you with an introduction to Grow Sheffield and Community Growers to bring you up to date with our organisation, and we also offer regular, free training and an in-house induction.

For a full role description and an application form, get in touch with Tom, our Volunteer Coordinator, at [email protected] or give us a call on 0114 2580784.

Sheffield Food Network Ambassador

Sheffield Food Network leaflets

Grow Sheffield and the Sheffield Food Network are looking for Ambassadors to promote the project amongst local businesses and consumers. The Sheffield Food Network is a new, online map to help people find sources of independent, local and fair food in Sheffield. This includes the shops, cafes and restaurants in Sheffield that sell and serve it, the farmers and producers that create it; and the places where people can grow and find it for themselves. Sheffield Food Network Ambassadors play a crucial role in finding food businesses that might be suitable for the network, checking their eligibility, adding them to the map, and making sure food businesses and others know about the network. Maybe you’re passionate about local food, or are interested in discovering the secret culinary delights of Sheffield? This role could be for you.

The Ambassadors will work closely with the Sheffield Food Network Project Leader and maintain a strong relationship with local businesses. We are looking for people who can demonstrate an interest in local food issues, good communication skills, and the ability to use sound judgement when assessing the eligibility of local businesses. You’ll have a strong relationship with other Ambassadors to ensure that we have mapped Sheffield in a consistent and organised manner. When you’ve met with the organisations and discussed the criteria with them, you’ll be responsible for feeding back to the project leader.

You’ll be representing the Food Network, but you’ll also become an integral part of the project. Our Ambassadors are key to the development of the network. An interest in local food is essential. We will provide you with an introduction to Grow Sheffield and the food network to bring you up to date with our organisation, and we also offer regular, free training and an in-house induction.

For a full role description and an application form, get in touch with Tom, our Volunteer Coordinator, at [email protected] or give us a call on 0114 2580784.