Grow Sheffield 2007-2017

Between 2007 and 2017 Grow Sheffield was active in promoting urban organic food growing. They acquired funding to provide training, advice and practical skills toward community building, environmental, physical and mental well-being and local enterprise.

As an active body Grow Sheffield no-longer operates. From 2018, the name ‘Grow Sheffield’ will refer to an annual city-wide campaign to promote the informal network of community growing projects.

Below you can read about Grow Sheffield’s activities between 2007 – 2017. If you would like to contact someone for research purposes, please See .

Grow Sheffield was founded in 2007 by Anne-Marie Culhane. The vision was to connect people to each other, to their environment and the seasons using food, food growing and creativity. Grow Sheffield was designed to be inclusive, celebratory and risk taking and to create a future vision of the city which was more connected with its food systems and was adaptive, dynamic and collaborative.  

With a little funding from the Community Champions Fund and the Arts Council, Anne-Marie programmed an autumn/harvest season of events and activities that included:

  • The birth of the Abundance project with food grower and artist Stephen Watts and the commissioning of the Abundance Cart from local craftsmen
  • A networking, open space and film screening at The Filmhouse
  • Reclaim the Soil guerilla planting in urban planters with Richard Clare
  • The first Allotment Soup multi-arts event at Highcliffe Allotments.
  • A collaborative poetry event walking across the city out to allotments on the city edge with Off the Shelf Festival and poet Paul Conneally

A group of us decided to meet and develop the ideas and themes that had emerged during the open space event and we went on to meeting in people’s houses that included talks and creative activities (films, poetry readings) and practical workshops. It was around this time that we decided to constitute as a voluntary group.  During this time Grow Sheffield lobbied Sheffield City Council to increase the land available for allotments and to look at opening up more land for growing as well as integrating food growing into their future city-wide planning.

In 2008 Grow Sheffield collaborated with Encounters Arts to create Encounter Abundance a shop offering free fruit in exchange for stories, recipes, swaps and ideas.  The shop was a greengrocer with a difference – all local fruit, given away in exchange for stories and lots of juicing, seed saving workshops. In 2009 Grow Sheffield commissioned an artist in residence to work with the new Community Growers project. Ruth Levene’s created a wonderful winter garden trail project.

Eleven years on Abundance and urban harvest groups abound across the country (See Abundance Network). Enthusiastic volunteers, with a desire to do make use of and share about the glut of unwanted fruit growing on trees and bushes in their neighbourhood, are identifying trees, collecting fruit and sharing it with tree owners, local schools, charities and restaurants. The Abundance Handbook written by Anne-Marie Culhane & Stephen Watts and designed by Jo Salter (free download) provides guidance on how to set up your own Abundance-style project.

Allotment Soup ran from 2007 – ….??? Bringing together allotmentholders, local community, performers and artists together to celebrate harvest together on a different allotment site across the city each year.


In 2011 we were successful in gaining funding from the Big Lottery Local Food Fund and this enabled us to recruit staff members to coordinate projects and in 2012 we were successful in becoming the Sheffield partner for the Big Dig volunteering project co-ordinated nationally by Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming and delivered locally by partner organisations based in six cities across England; London, Brighton, Coventry, Manchester, Middlesbrough, and Sheffield!


Anne-Marie is an artist, educator and activist who continues to develop food growing, community and creative projects inspired by permaculture design in other parts of the UK including Orchard City, Fruit Routes at Loughborough University and FLOW Exeter – a 5km long ribbon orchard running through the city. See for more details.


With thanks to…

We would like to thank all the organisations and individuals who have supported Grow Sheffield as it has evolved. This includes: Community Champions Fund (South Yorkshire Community Foundation) Open Gate Trust, Naturesave Trust, The Showroom Cinema, Arts Council England, Department of Architecture, University of Sheffield, Sheffield City Council