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A Magazine for Sheffield

Harvest for the World

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Florence Blanchard

Autumn's the season of mists, mellow fruitfulness and seasonal affective disorder, so it's good to get outdoors. One Sheffield organisation has been leading the way to a better, healthier world for 12 years. Abundance was founded to harvest fruit and other food which would otherwise go to waste, while caring for green areas around the city.

Sheffield has more trees than many other cities, so in autumn there's a lot of food hanging around waiting to be picked. People with more fruit or veg than they can pick themselves can be added to Abundance's list and a small army of trained volunteers will come along to harvest, giving first refusal to the owners of the trees or gardens.

Abundance has a long-standing arrangement for many people around the city to use this food. It's distributed not-for-profit, over the winter, to a whole variety of community organisations, including old people's centres, community cafés and homeless kitchens. It's less of an organisation and more of a seasonal tradition of communal harvesting, as old as humankind.

Abundance's activities include harvesting, distributing, growing and enjoying free food, shared meals and workshops such as juicing, cider making and preserving.

making sure food isnt left to rot on trees is just one part of it

But making sure food isn't left to rot on trees is just one part of it. There's nothing more heartwarming than being with people, making new friends, getting free food and offering it to others as well. Let's face it, there's a lot of hunger in Sheffield, both for food and for socialising. When Abundance arrives every year with the new harvest, it can be quite emotional. Friendships and networks are cultivated. It's fertile soil for the sort of vital social mixing which is so easily absent from our lives.

Abundance works among a web of food and growing projects. A related organisation, Sheffield Fruit Trees, encourages the planting of locally-grown, resilient trees so that even more fruit will be around in future. Our ancestors knew more about this stuff than most of us do now, but we can all learn a bit more about how to feed ourselves. Working for change means a few lifestyle and dietary changes, but it's not all about what you stop doing. This is healthy, positive action for a better world. It's an easy way to get into wildlife, biodiversity and spending time in nature.

Contact Abundance if you'd like to help or if you know of a glut of fruit or vegetables, even a single tree, which isn't being harvested. They can be found online under Grow Sheffield and the two coordinators are Izzy Hadlum and Mikk Murray.

Hosted by Alt-Sheff

Local Listings

Sheffield Outdoor Vegan Market

Sun 10 Nov | 10:30am-4pm | The Moor, S1 4PD

Dozens of stalls offering a wide variety of vegan food and other stuff, from healthy fast food to vegan cheeses, cosmetics, ethical clothing, arts, crafts and charity stalls. Stallholders and sponsorships welcome.

Repair Café

Sat 16 Nov | 10am-4pm | Community Hall, Heeley City Farm, S2 3DT

Many broken things can be repaired. One Saturday every alternating month, a group of dedicated volunteers offers to fix items like vacuum cleaners, radios, toys and whatever else has bust. They're joined by BitFIXit, which mends computers on a pay-as-you-can basis.

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