ShefFood is excited to share the Fringe Farming Report 2022. The report reveals how farming Sheffield’s Fringe could benefit Sheffield’s City. This includes improved health, access to jobs, and fighting the climate emergency. Sheffield’s own Regather Farm was one of the contributors. They showed how urban farming can bring economic benefits to the region in just four short years.

What is Fringe Farming?

Fringe Farming was developed by Sustain, a charity that advocates for food and agricultural policies. The initiative unites UK food, farming and land organisations to increase agroecological aka nature-friendly farming at the edge of cities. Agroecological farming combines environmental science and broader social impacts to create better and fairer farming practices. It seeks to increase the production of local, healthy foods accessible to all while also mitigating the climate crisis.

In 2021, the initiative delivered action-planning events, research, and policy briefings in Bristol, Glasgow, London, and Sheffield. Their 2022 report highlights the issues farmers face. Likewise, it sets out the actions that local authorities and Government can taketo create a better food system. 

The primary barriers new farmers encounter are; lack of access to land; limited enterprise support for food producers and difficulty securing funding for smaller-scale market gardens. National and local government policy around food strategy has a limited amount to say on  agroecological farming. Something that is being addressed through regular dialogue and collaborative working with these organisations.

Urban Growing in Sheffield

As one of the partner projects in Fringe Farming, Regather has showcased how urban farming can help the local region in just a short space of time. The Regather Farm is a 15-acre site on the edge of Sheffield in the beautiful Moss Valley. Formed in 2018 in response to demand for local produce, it features a market garden, 4 large poly-tunnels, an orchard, 1km of new hedgerow,, a new pond and an onsite woodland.  Plans are in place to develop an agroforestry project.

Of course,  Regather isn’t the only grower in Sheffield! Sheffield Organic Growers, Beanies and the Moss Valley Market Garden have been growing in the Moss Valley for over 10 years. Heeley City Farm has been operating for 40 years, and the Food Works Sheffield farm is entering its second full growing season this year. Not to mention, Sheffield is home to over 3000 allotments and countless community gardens. 

What are the benefits of growing in Sheffield city?

ShefFood is all about building a better food system for Sheffield, and we fully support the findings of the Fringe Farming report. Here’s how growing in the city could benefit Sheffield’s citizens.

  • Increased access to locally produced affordable, seasonal, nutritious and delicious foods.
  • Improved provision of jobs, education and training in the regional economy.
  • More access to green space and outdoor learning – we are the Outdoor City, after all.
  • Support for community development through community-owned resources, events, and volunteering opportunities.
  • Improved farming practices that can control food waste, reduce carbon emissions and improve the fertility of soils for future generations.  
  • Increased biodiversity of both plant and animal life in and around the city.

Everyone in Sheffield deserves good food, access to nature and a resilient economy built on community growth and green action.

What we need from Local Government

We want to see this happen, so we are calling on Sheffield City Council and the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority to follow the guidelines set out by the report. This includes developing an integrated horticultural and agricultural training system. This will tackle the lack of local education and training in horticulture and agriculture skills. Plus, it will increase green jobs in the region. This requires funding through bursaries, apprenticeships, and courses. Priority also needs to be for young adults not currently in education and those with limited financial resources.

Urban farming has incredible potential, and we can’t wait to see how the Sheffield landscape changes with positive action. To read the report in full, head to sustainweb.org.