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A Magazine for Sheffield

ShefFood Cultivating communities through the Good Food Movement

The local food partnership's Good Food Movement is about supporting individuals, organisations and community projects to help influence Sheffield’s food systems for a brighter food future for all.

Members of Shef Food

Members of ShefFood.


ShefFood wants to help make our city a place where everyone has access to healthy, locally sourced food that's good for both people and the planet. By supporting individuals, businesses and small food projects through education and community engagement, they're working towards a future where good food is equitable for all.

The food partnership is all about bringing individuals, groups and businesses together who grow, make, sell or provide food. This could be local farms, bakeries, or even community gardens. They also encourage discussion and engagement through their diverse programme of events to help cultivate better growing, food waste management and contribute to more sustainable food policies in the city.

I spoke to ShefFood Partnership Coordinator Rachael Treharne to find out more about how they are supporting food networks in Sheffield through the Good Food Movement.

Can you tell us more about your intentions with the Good Food Movement and why it's important?

Sheffield recently won the Sustainable Food Places Silver Award following the Sheffield Local Food Action Plan launch. This is great recognition for all of the fantastic work our partners are doing. Now we want to focus on how we expand to be more representative of the whole city.

There is a lot of work going on that we haven’t been able to represent very well yet. We want to bring more people into our conversations and make local food policy more accessible. The Good Food Movement is the tool for us to do that.

One of Sheffield’s strengths is that we are a complex and diverse city and we want to do more to recognise that. We’re looking forward to spending more time in different areas of the city which aren’t yet reflected in the Local Food Action Plan to understand how we fix that: How do we make sure we have a partnership with the Good Food Movement across the city that is really representative of taste, culture and the different demographics across the city?

Give us a flavour of where you are going in the city and who you are speaking to.

Recently I have had some really nice conversations. I’ve heard about a wonderful community garden coordinated by Manor and Castle Development Trust, but with real community ownership and leadership over the direction of the project. I didn’t know about the garden at all, but it's a beautiful space and clearly really important to the local community.

I was in Darnall the other day and speaking to the folks at Galeed House. It is cosy and feels like going into a home. Galeed House actually means a place of friendship.

There’s not an explicit focus on food. When I went there was a community sewing drop-in session happening. Afterwards they serve a free lunch and people can eat together. That community building aspect around food was intimate and really friendly. There were people from the very local community, some who have only arrived in Sheffield recently and others who have been coming to Galeed house for years and years. Again, I had no idea that was happening.

How does ShefFood help to build connections?

Our job at ShefFood is to support the creation of a better food system that works for everyone. What we do at ShefFood does depend on what our partner organisations are doing and what they need. That conversation will be very different depending on who I am speaking to. For some organisations it might be access to space, and we would think about who we can talk to create a conversation or how we can move forward with any access issues.

For others it might be totally different. For example, I was recently speaking to the Cathedral Archer Project about their food service, and with the cost of food their budget is stretched. So our conversation was more about how do you get that budget to go further and what collective food sourcing options we can link them into.

What we want is to hear from organisations across the city. What do they need? Where are they right now? We want to offer support with areas they may be struggling with. Sometimes it helps to chat through ideas and share knowledge.

Have you got some recent success stories?

One example is S6 Food Bank, who have a lot of storage capacity and are now able to leverage capacity for smaller independent food banks. They can also use their collective buying power to make food orders for a range of items and do it for a lower price point because of the collective buying, and S6 will deliver to those food banks.

Often these are small teams with a few volunteers so that is a big time saver as well. It is about working together to make that budget go further, help more people get fed and get that additional wraparound support which is so critical with food banks. It is really impactful.

Why does Sheffield need this?

There is so much happening around food in the city and so much of that is being done by people with a huge amount of care for their community and passion but limited resources. In Sheffield we have so many community gardens and green spaces and it is such an important part of life in the city.

I think having a space to access a little bit of additional support and having space to lift your head up can help with looking further down the road. Together we can take a chance to collectively think about what we will do next, which is very important.

The bigger transformation stuff really needs people to come together to think about how to make change. Food partnerships are a powerful tool to think about issues like how do people access affordable fresh food if there aren’t the places on their doorstep?

There are solutions that people are working on around that but you can’t just have one organisation thinking about it [...] you need collective conversations. That is our role, to help convene those [collective conversations].

Are you talking to bigger organisations like Sheffield City Council and other decision makers?

Yes, ShefFood has a steering group which includes representatives from Sheffield City Council, both the universities and other organisations like Regather and Food Works.

We are in a challenging time and everyone is aware of that. On the flip side, having local food partnerships and what we provide in the sense of tackling that has so far been very successful. There is a positive feeling about what we can achieve. Our role is about facilitation and convening what is happening across the city, and how we can support and champion the work that is being done.

If you can sum up what you would like to see in the future, what would be on the wish list?

There are so many things. The broadest ones are...

I would like to see the ShefFood partnership look a lot more like the city. I would like to see representation of all of the city’s wards in that partnership, as well as all the different parts of our food system and all different types of communities. I would like to see that followed through to policy impact, with actions being followed up on which benefit the whole city. That is the big one.

I would also like to see an increased awareness and appreciation generally in Sheffield about what is going on. I think it is easy to miss some of that. A big part of the Good Food Movement is in just a small way trying to achieve that.

For example, we started a little book club with Juno Books. Everyone who has come to that has said it is really great to have this as it gives us space to talk about these issues relating to food that we are interested in.

We are also looking at doing film screenings and those sorts of things to bring people together to join the conversation. So I would like to see these events being something which becomes more established.

How do people find out more about what you are doing or tell you what they are doing?

Check the website and social media. Individuals can now sign the ShefFood Charter and that formally makes you part of the Good Food Movement.

Anyone who is involved in an organisation or is doing something around food and they would like to see this thing more promoted or recognised or they would like support with whatever. We love to hear from people. There is a contact form on the website. However people want to reach out to us, we would love to hear from people who are doing things across the city.

A lot of what we do is dropping by where people are based and having a chat about what they are up to. It's the most fun part of the job, so any excuse to do more of that is very welcome!

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