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Regather in the Community

Lucy from Sheffield co-op Regather tells us about their local food projects, upcoming community events and how a local approach to growing can make a positive difference.

Women growing regather

Israac women's group taking part in a Lansdowne Estate Gardening Club session.

Regather is owned by a local community who are passionate about improving food networks and contributing to a better, sustainable, shared future in Sheffield and beyond.

The co-operative delivers a wide range of community projects including local events focused on healthy eating, active lifestyles, local heritage and community growing.

We spoke to Lucy, Marketing Officer and Packing Supervisor at Regather, to learn more about their food projects and how a community approach can make a positive difference.

Tell us more about the Lansdowne Gardening Club.

Lansdowne Estate Gardening Club is a practical food growing project we’ve been running at Club Garden Road and the Lansdowne Estate [in Sharrow] since May 2021. We want to help communities access healthier food options, making fresh fruit and veg available for residents to harvest themselves.

The group meets every Sunday, 10am-1pm. We enjoy time chatting and planting fruit and vegetables and have a delicious fresh lunch together afterwards, provided by Regather.

What are you growing and what's been the response from people involved?

We’re currently growing edible perennials (e.g. fruit and herbs), as they require less time commitment and keep producing year on year.

The club is currently made up of Lansdowne and other local residents, although we’ve seen some folk coming from farther reaches of the city. We’ve also linked up with women from the Ashiana refuge and they’ve been some of the most regular attendees.

The response has been fantastic from those involved. Planting and gardening together is fostering a real sense of community amongst the club. We’re getting great feedback from residents and passersby too. People love seeing their local green space being cared for.

What other Regather events are coming up and what can people learn?

As part of Heritage Open Days, Fran Halsall will be at the Samuel Worth Chapel at the General Cemetery at 3pm on Saturday 11 September talking about the community food growing projects she’s been involved in. These include Kenwood Community Growers in Nether Edge, Food Works Farm and Lansdowne Estate Gardening Club.

This year Heritage Open Days’ national theme is ‘Edible England’, so it’s a perfect match. Come along to learn about the journey setting these up: process, delivery, challenges, achievements and more.

What can people look forward to from the upcoming Little Sheffield Feast?

The Little Sheffield Feast is a free community celebration taking place on 26 September, 1pm-5pm, featuring local food and drink, live music and history. The street party will be hosted outside Regather on Club Garden Road.

On the menu there will be food cooked by local organisations including Regather, Shipshape and Foodhall with produce grown locally on the Lansdowne estate, at Regather’s farm in Moss Valley, High Riggs Freeman Biodynamic Garden and Moss Valley Market Garden.

There will also be tours of our edible community garden on Lansdowne Estate, an apple juicing stand, live music from Soup Review and much more.

Why is finding sustainable ways of growing and sharing skills with local communities important?

Food sourcing and production has become an ever hotter topic due to the pandemic, Brexit and climate change. Our best defence is working together to localise food systems – and how much more local can you get than growing in your own neighbourhood?

Skill sharing and sustainable growing has three major benefits: building confidence in growing food, encouraging healthy eating habits and promoting the value of coming together for meaningful action.

Regather harvest

Regather Farm at Moss Valley.

What have you learnt from your work this year? The good, bad and the surprising?

The Good - We’ve kept the vast majority of our new customers that joined during the first lockdown. In a matter of weeks in April 2020 our box numbers more than doubled, so this is fantastic news for us. Regather Farm over in Moss Valley has had an incredible year producing its biggest harvest yet, plus we have three new polytunnels.

The Bad - Covid closures had a big effect on our suppliers. We were lucky not to experience it ourselves, but it was difficult to see local businesses temporarily closing.

The Surprising - The immediate impacts of Brexit have been less severe for us as an organisation than we had anticipated. We only had one ‘lost’ container of produce when we left the EU in January. No sigh of relief yet though - staff shortages in the food supply chain are increasing, so we’re always making contingency plans for potential disruption.

What's planned for later this year and how can people find out more?

Markets, markets, markets! We’ll be at Nether Edge Market on Sunday 12 September, Pollen Market on 18 September and hopefully at a market once a month after that. Come and chat to us about what we do and take home some local organic produce.

Our ever-popular apple juicing campaign is back. Bring your apples to Grizzly Grains’ Brewery on Fridays throughout September and October and we’ll juice them (Bonus: you’ll get 25% of your juice back!). Full info on our website.

We have two more electronic trikes in the pipeline to reduce our dependence on diesel vans. You’ll spot us pedalling all over the place in no time.

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