Since their founding in 2010, Sharrow’s Regather Co-operative have nurtured an eclectic range of projects, from fruit and veg delivery to a bad film club. We spoke to Tim Feben to find out what’s coming up and where they’re going next.

I’ve seen the vision of Regather described as a “mutual local economy”. Can you explain that in a nutshell?

Essentially it’s just a way of saying we want to get people buying, trading and working together on a local level and for the people involved to have control over the activities that make up their time. For example, our fruit and veg box scheme, where we build a platform for local farmers and food businesses to reach the wider public. Our bar and outdoor events serve craft beer made by Regather workers at our on-site brewery and our venue provides the forum for people to come together, exchange ideas and socialise. As it’s part of a co-operative structure we all have control, there’s no one person who’s more powerful than their vote and if there are profits to be had they’d get shared out equally. Just by having that mechanism everybody can hold each other and the business to account.

How much support do you get from the council?

We have a good relationship with the council and are trying to forge further links where possible but we don’t receive any funding from them or across the board, bar a few smaller grants. We aim to be self-sufficient where possible through our commercial activities, making our products attractive and competitive, which should make us more resilient in the longer term. That’s not to say we wouldn’t welcome further support and investment from the various bodies out there, but we’ve got this far without. We’ve been trying to ramp up our footprint in Sheffield and get more involved in various projects at a higher level, to help steer the debate towards a Sheffield we want to see. That’s been slowly coming together with various food partnerships and community economic development projects that are currently in place or being developed.

What projects are in the pipeline?

We’re looking to scale-up all our business activities and keep things building and building. Ultimately as our customer base grows for things like the veg box, the economies of scale kick in and we start to really get that buying power to develop those supply chains. The organic supply chain in Sheffield is good but it’s not as cheap as it could be with more people getting involved.

What’s coming up this year that you’re excited about?

I’m excited to have David Thomas Broughton (9 December) and Alasdair Roberts (22 November) come and play for us – I’ve been trying to get Broughton for a while as he’s a really great act! We’re also involved in the Sheffield Comedy Festival in October for the first time this year, which will supplement our monthly comedy series that Sean Morley heads up. As for our weekly film night, we love documentaries and will be focusing on this over the coming season. Sheffield Adventure Film Festival will be back as a regular contributor, as well as a new series of live soundtracks premiering at this year’s Sensoria.

What’s your favourite gig you’ve hosted at Regather?

It’s a tough one but I was really happy to have Nuala Honan performing for us again. She’s someone we’ve been working with for years as a promoter. The room at Regather suits intimate shows and ones where the audience is right along with the performer for the whole journey, and that night was packed with a top atmosphere. It just clicked.

regather.net

Sam Gregory