Hi, this is my first report from East of the Pennines for Northern Edge. My local patch is Pitsmoor a multi-cultural inner city area in Sheffield, an exciting place to be. Originally much of the area was built by the railway company in the late 1800’s to house its workers and as staff drinking was not approved there are few pubs within the large areas of terraced housing.
Inner city we may be, swathes of terraced housing interspersed with blocks of more modern flats but surprisingly some beautiful green areas - ancient woodland, a huge, long closed cemetery and Abbeyfield Park which was once the garden of a local coal mine owner.
There are many active community groups some of which have permaculture activists as part of their staff or volunteers. Groups such as The Burngreave Messenger, in my (biased) opinion the best community magazine in Sheffield, and Green City Action which runs the city Tool bank and community allotments, helping educate school children in Green issues. Both of these are based in Abbeyfield Park which recently established an outdoor art gallery along the old derelict stable block. Also in the park are BITParT (Burngreave IT partnership) which meets weekly to help the community mend or restore their laptops, phones etc. In conjunction with the tool bank, Bitpart hosts a monthly Repair cafe, teaching participants to repair their own tools and equipment, electrical or otherwise, even repairing garments while you wait.
|Pitsmoor Adventure Playground||- feeding hungry kids!|
Parkwood Springs – 370 acres of green space dubbed ‘A country park in the city’ housing, a brilliant forest garden cared for by multi faith volunteers, ponds, heathland, several football pitches, off road cycle runs and currently planning the re-installation of the old ski village and new ski and go-kart runs down the hill;
Sage green fingers another allotment project which helps those recovering from mental health problems grow their own food and cook it together too;
Several housing co-operatives.
Scrapdragon, the city scrapstore which will accept and recycle almost anything and local Pub
The Bay Horse has been running Monday evening craft sessions!
Green City Action Tool Bank
Yemeni community Association;
Somali mental health project,
One of the most active - Pitsmoor Ladies Facebook Page - organised various fun activities during lockdown. Starting with a table top trail round the area in the autumn, moving onto a scarecrow competition, followed by a pumpkin parade and an advent calendar trail of decorated front windows. Danielle creates a map of addresses of participants so the 'trails' can be followed. Advent trails have become very popular and not just here but all around the city – Stannington, Nether Edge, Firth Park, Parson Cross all have their own versions too. The decorated windows are continuing in Pitsmoor with a spring Valentine theme. The local pre-school playgroup are offering to colour hearts for participants to use. Their page is here.
The partner of one of my grandsons and three friends initiated a "Secret Santa" for children who might not receive any presents. Schools and social services recommended recipients. “Wow, We smashed it!” said Laura. “Thank you to everyone who donated and helped with wrapping, collections and drop-offs, we raised over £10k, helped 11 schools, food banks and private referrals. Hundreds of Children have presents to open this year. What a busy, emotional journey it’s been. We will be a registered charity in 2021!”
I know I’ve missed many deserving activities.
Next time I’ll try to spread wider afield.
Getting more crop from the plot
As well as collecting the government information on growing from WW2 for my Dig for Victory book. I've picked up quite a few books from the period. I love their clear, no-nonsense style, just good instructions and tips delivered without waffle and pretty photos that add nothing to the advice. This tip for getting more crop from the plot comes from War-Time Gardening for Home Needs.
In February, sow broad beans in the rows where your potatoes will be planted in March or April spaced to allow for the potatoes to go in. The beans will grow ahead and outpace the later-planted potatoes and gain you an extra crop from the same space The beans will not be harmed by earthing up the potatoes later - in fact this may benefit them.
They don't particularly compete for the same nutrients, either. This means you should get as good a yield as you would have got from cropping separately. (From Grow Your Own - Allotment Garden Help by John Harrison)
Sheffield has many wonderful trees, but lately there has been controversy over trees along the streets.
Why keeping one mature street tree is far better for humans and nature than planting lots of new ones - an article from Mary Gagen of Swansea University. Greenwashing spin is often used to justify chopping down mature street trees.
The magnificent Pitsmoor Scarecrow Festival served to highlight how making scarecrows stretches back around the world for thousands of years. Scarecrows feature in many religions and cultures. They appeal to all ages. They can represent good or evil, famine or fertility, poverty or wealth, wisdom and stupidity, life or death. Making them is real folk craft and home based fun for all the family. Let the Pitsmoor Scarecrow Festival flourish and maybe you’ll even make one next year. Be proud of your scarecrow: it is unique!
"Scarecrow Quiz" from issue 148 of the Burngreave Messenger, created by quizmaster Graham Jones. Quiz answers in the next issue