Shaping Foods' future

Shaping Food’s Future

In a city known for its industrial heritage and vibrant cultural scene, Sheffield is also emerging as a leader in urban and peri-urban farming. With community gardens sprouting across neighbourhoods and innovative food initiatives taking root, Sheffield is becoming an example of sustainable agriculture that’s tied directly to the local food system. Now, this burgeoning movement is set to play a pivotal role in a national dialogue about the future of food in the UK.

The Food, Farming and Countryside Commission (FFCC) has been at the forefront of advocating for a fairer, more sustainable food system. In 2023, the FFCC hosted in-depth citizen workshops in Cambridge and Birmingham, exploring how we grow, make, and eat food. These workshops revealed a strong public desire for fair wages for farmers, environmentally friendly food production, and accessible, nutritious food for all. There was also a clear call for governmental leadership and accountability for businesses that harm public health and the environment.

This year, the FFCC is scaling up its efforts, inviting communities across the UK to host their own Food Conversations. The aim is to create a UK-wide dialogue on an unprecedented scale, incorporating diverse voices and perspectives to drive meaningful change. Sheffield’s very own ShefFood has been chosen to organise one of these crucial conversations.

ShefFood, the food partnership based in Sheffield, is dedicated to fostering a sustainable and equitable food system in the city. By bringing together local growers, food producers, community groups, and citizens, ShefFood is working to transform how Sheffield sources, shares, and consumes food.

On July 17th, between 6 and 8, ShefFood will host a Food Conversation workshop at Tonco Bakery. This event, which will run for 90 minutes, aims to gather 20  citizens of Sheffield to discuss the current food system and envision the changes needed for a healthier, fairer future. This is a unique opportunity for Sheffield residents to voice their opinions, share their experiences, and contribute to a national movement for food system change.  We’re lucky to be catered for by the delicious chefs at Tonco Bakery, who will be serving a delicious vegetarian meal (vegan options available) after our discussion. 

The Food Conversation workshop and other ShefFood events like the Good Food Movement working group meetings are more than just discussions; they are a chance to shape the future of food policy in the UK. Findings from previous FFCC workshops have already influenced media coverage and parliamentary debates, highlighting citizens’ dissatisfaction with the status quo. By participating in food-focused workshops, Sheffielders can ensure their views are heard at the highest levels of decision-making.

Sheffield’s involvement in the Food Conversation is a natural extension of its thriving local food scene. The city is home to numerous community gardens, urban farms, and innovative food projects that emphasise sustainability and community resilience. Enterprises like Regather, Heeley City Farm, and the Sheffield Organic Growers are just a few examples of how local organisations are redefining urban and peri-urban agriculture. Community initiatives like United Women Affiliation, Green City Action and Arbourthorne Community Allotment showcase how even the smallest plots of land can be utilised for grassroots food creation.

These projects not only provide fresh, locally-grown produce but also create spaces for education, community building, and environmental stewardship. By supporting local food initiatives, Sheffielders are investing in a healthier, more sustainable future for their city.

One of the strengths of Sheffield’s food movement is its emphasis on community. Whether it’s through community-supported agriculture schemes, farmers’ markets, or food co-ops, Sheffielders are finding ways to connect with their food and each other. This sense of community is crucial in driving the changes needed for a more equitable food system.

The upcoming Food Conversation workshop is a perfect example of this community spirit. By coming together to discuss the challenges and opportunities within the food system, participants will build relationships and foster a collective vision for the future. 

As Sheffield continues to grow its urban and peri-urban farming initiatives, events like the Food Conversation workshop are essential in shaping a sustainable future. By participating in this national dialogue, Sheffielders can help drive the change needed to create a food system that is fair, healthy, and environmentally sound.

While the FFCC workshop is part of a nationwide effort, Sheffielders can get involved with the local food system more actively through ShefFood. You can sign the Sheffield Food Charter as an individual and commit to some of their pledges, such as growing your own veg, reducing food waste, connecting with your community through food activities, or attending one of ShefFood’s working group meetings. If you want to see Sheffield’s food system thrive and grow into a greener, fairer and healthier system for all, then join Sheffield’s Good Food Movement today.

To learn more about the FFCC visit their website: 

The Good Food Movement