‘Speak and Grow’ Policy 2013

22 Feb

The new group of Speak and Grow Co-ordinators put together the following policy for the group:

What Do We Want Our Group to Be Like?

We want to help people to feel confident

We want to share different skills

We want to explore the joy of growing together

We want to be proud of the group and what we do

We want the group to be inclusive

We want there to be a discussion process in everything we do.

We want there to be a structure to the sessions so people know what to expect.

We want to share food together

We will be artistic and adventurous

Summer Family Days and Community Cafe (24th July – 21st August)

26 Jul

School’s out for summer and St Mary’s would like to extend a warm invitation for you to join us for some fun and food throughout the six weeks.

On Tuesdays we have free children’s activities, bouncy castles and community cafe.

On Wednesdays the cafe will again be open with toys available for younger children.

Our kitchen’s famous across the city for its irresistable food, so drop by and enjoy!

Pies and Peas –  £1
Filled Rolls – £1
Children’s Ice Creams – £0.50
Pizza and Salad – £1
Soup and Bread – £1
Home Made Cake – £1

What’s more, the vegetables from our lovely community garden will be contributing to to the soup.  It doesn’t get fresher than that!

Green Affair

28 Jun

Only a couple of days left until Sheffield Green Fair this Saturday and we’re very excited to be hosting the event at St Mary’s.  If you haven’t had a chance to look around the hub yet do come along for a guided tour, we have some volunteers who are eager to show you their work.

While you’re there you can ask us about the interesting things we’ve been up to over the past couple of months, including:

LaDiy Spinach in the Sky









The Sheffield branch of LaDiyfest came to the hub for a session on growing food in small spaces.

LaDiy are a feminist collective who meet up to share skills and knowledge.  Putting together hanging containers of spinach is hopefully one of the skills now being shared!  They also bought lots of food for what we hope we’ll be the first of many amazing picnics.

From Pot to Plate in Thirty Seconds










At the Refugee Council we’ve been preparing for the Women’s Cooking Event next Wednesday.  The coriander, spinach, rocket and radish have grown in a matter of weeks, ready for an international cook-off that’s going to include some very fresh ingredients.









Peas in the Park

The St Mary’s hub teamed up with our Community Growers Co-ordinator in Walkley at Peace in the Park for a pea sowing extravaganza.  Thanks to everybody who came and talked to us (and took home paper pot peas!)  Did you try some of Abundance’s tasty elderflower cordial?









Speak and Grow

Last but not least, the ‘Speak and Grow’ group at St Mary’s spent Monday busily potting up strawberry runners and to give away at the fair this Saturday.  They’ve also been practising their English when talking about the garden in preparation for showing people around.











Come and chat to us! It’s going to be a brilliant day.

Break Through

15 May

In the face of stubbornly bad weather, our brave seeds have finally poked their heads above the soil. 

Thanks guys, knew you’d make it eventually.



We’ve had some really interesting ‘Speak and Grow’ sessions of late.  Here’s the last couple of weeks in pictures.

Brainstorming the cabbage bed:


Planting out loads of strawberries, and earthing up the potatoes:









Picking nettles to help get the compost going.

They really speed up the process but make sure you leave out the roots!









And posing a bit:









If you’d like to come and volunteer as a conversationalist on a Monday afternoon, get in touch on bethan.grow@gmail.com

***********************NEWS FLASH*******************************

We have an exciting new growing project taking shape, bringing members of St Mary’s ‘Food Hub’ and IBK Initiatives together on a Thursday morning.  Watch this space, and email bethan.grow@gmail.com to be added to the mailing list.

**********************END OF NEWS FLASH*************************


Look, No Locks!

28 Apr

Look, No Locks!

For over ten years Sustain have been conceptualising and promoting London as one big multi-cultural, intergenerational allotment.  We were lucky enough to have Ben Reynolds from the organisation as a guest speaker at Grow Sheffield’s AGM last night.

As we showed Ben around the St Mary’s hub where the AGM was held, he offered up a few words that could prove integral in keeping the growing space useful, occupied and productive in years to come.

‘Keep the space open.  It’s often the key to success.”

Increasingly you see community spaces fenced in, beds caged up and people kept out, because what’s more depressing than growing carrots if they’re going to get pulled?  Why put up wigwams and use nets, if they’re relentlessly and ruthlessly torn down for fun?

Honestly though?  All this stuff has been up for a month or so now and everything’s perfectly in place, aside from some petty vandalism by a squirrel.  The green is used as a recreational area constantly by young, old, richer, poorer – a whole cross section of the community – and everything remains basically untouched.

Here’s Why (We Think)

1.  Sessions are Open

Even if we’re providing a session that’s tailored to a particular group’s interests, we invite anyone around to join in.  There’s no exclusivity, the more the merrier.  In fact, one of our youngest community growers was found this way, the fantastic Levi who can often be seen biking round the Church.  Here he is planting the pak choi he grew from seed at home:










2. The Art of Pottering

Most days of the week, someone’s around.  It might be some of the women checking out their work from Monday before their Friday English class, or John from The Lunch Club sowing some seed and having a look at whatis growng.  It’s not dead space, in fact, it’s beginning slowly to thrive in the hands of the Highfield community.

3. A Bit of Trust Goes A Long Way

When your security measures start to rival Alcatraz, you’re posing a challenge as much as providing protection. In contrast, by leaving things a bit vulnerable, you’re making an open statement that you’re not expecting vandalism.  This sort of positive thinking doesn’t always translate into reality, but it’s a lot less disheartening to have a few things go missing than to feel under attack.

So, this is an invitation to all Sheffielders.

Make use of the space!

Bring some food and lean against the beds, play some guitar with friends, water, weed, and have a cycle round to see what’s happening even if you can’t make sessions.

With long evenings and sunny days over summer, no doubt there’ll be set backs.  But for now we’re holding tight to the ethos above.  And in light of this, please, come visit us next week:

Do I Want Dragons on my Patch?

16 Apr










With the Easter holidays, the numbers of the ‘Learn English, Grow Food’ session were swelled by the enthusiastic kids who use the green space around St Mary’s, who proved to be a both lovely and helpful addition to the group.

We kicked off with a treasure hunt, and then used all the things we found to play a game of ‘Do I Want it in My Vegetable Patch?’

It turns out that pretty much everything, from flowers, to cats, to frogs and dragons have a part to play in our environment – and if they bother our food there’s usually a safe, organic way to deal with the problem.   We even got an indepth explanation of pollination from one of our nine year old participants!

After this we tried out the new gloves and helped Daniele from Abundance to plant some of the newly grafted apple and pear trees in one of the beds.  Some innovative recycling going on here – Daniele had some hops from a local brewery to use as a mulch, continuing the beer theme of last week’s slug pubs.



















This week we’re starting to properly plant up the beds – Why not drop by next Sunday for the first of the skill share sessions? It starts at 2.00pm and we’ll be discussing the best way to get beans and peas going.  And of course if you like the sound of ‘Learn English, Grow Food’, remember, the more helpers we have the more one-on-one conversation we can get going, so come along at 1.30 on a Monday.

Happy Growing!


Spuds in the Sun

28 Mar

The sun hit the Community Garden so fiercely this week that even in the cool of the evening the walls were still radiating heat.  We’ve been going to bed dreaming of gigantic pumpkins, cucumbers and courgettes.

The ‘Learn English, Grow Food’  on Monday had tripled as word of mouth spread.  We got some good English practice in (turns out that the word ‘occasionally’ is actually quite a hard word to explain, never mind memorise), but it was really wonderful to meet people from around the world who have very different growing experiences. Two of our Russian ladies taught us that they cut their potatoes vertically in half to double the crop, and apparently in Eritrea it’s pretty standard to grow corn in your backyard.

On a much more local level, one of our helpers for the day, Polly, offered to fill up the slug pubs as she lives around the corner.  Hopefully white wine will work as well as beer!

Just to finish off with a lovely photo, here’s Alix holding his toilet roll pak choi seed starter.  He’s doing a bit of plant babysitting on his windowsill while we get things rolling.

‘Learn English, Grow Food’ takes place every Monday at 1.30pm

Beds, and Bikes and Veg, Oh My!

17 Mar


It’s been an eventful week at the St Mary’s hub.  The beds (which are HUGE) have been beautifully built by Alvan, our friendly neighbourhood craftsman.



We’re going to have these filled over the next couple of weeks.  That’s a lot of soil, and alot of space for food!


The ideas been in the pipeline for a little while, but it’s slowly starting to take shape for the ‘mobile veg’ scheme.  A group of bike and growing enthusiasts got together to talk about how we can help older people to continue gardening and enjoying home-grown organic food.  Gemma had some great ideas that might be the beginning of something:

– A bunch of volunteers can get together to grow with older people who want to keep gardening, but might need a bit of help to do the physical activities.  Aim:  grow tons of food and share lots of knowledge.

– When the fruit and vegetables are grown, we distribute them by bike trailer to people who can’t get out of the house very easily.  It’d be great if we could eat the food we bring together.

Want to get involved or have some great ideas?  Contact us on bethan.grow@gmail.com


With the beds as yet empty, the ‘Learn English, Grow Food’ group opted to plant some chives and spinach up to grow on at home.   We had two particularly keen gardeners turn up.  They hadn’t heard of the word ‘organic’ before, but they’ve been practising what they call the ‘all natural’ approach for years.


Thanks for helping out Trevor!

There was some discussion over whether it would be better to run the session on a Monday, and we’ve agreed to have the next one on the 26th.  We need volunteers to help the learners practise their conversation skills.  So if you want to help out on a Monday at 1.30pm, get in touch and please feel free to spread the word.








Getting Started

5 Mar

With warmer weather comes a busy week at St Mary’s.  Here’s the low down on what we’ve been up to.


We kicked off with a chitting session with a toddler and parent group that’s been going at the community centre for over twenty years.   Chitting is a weird gardening word for letting potatoes sprout for a few weeks before you plant them.  It gives them a good head start.

It’s pretty simple:  you pop seed potatoes on a tray in a cool but light place and wish really hard that they’ll grow legs like the ones you leave in your cupboard.  To spice things up a bit we made potato sailors on egg box boats.  Ahoy!


Why buy a propagator when you can make one?  The ‘Learn English’ class recycled some pop bottles today into miniature greenhouses to start off peas.  They’re looking after them for a couple of weeks at home and then bringing them back to be planted out.  They’re the sweet kind you get from a pod – good for picking to enjoy in class come the summer.


The Sharrow Showcase at the Old Junior School brought out loads of people from the local community to enjoy the best of what Sharrow has to offer.  The place was absolutely packed.   Beth and Jerry (Community Growers Co-ordinator for Sharrow) ran a drop-in workshop to show how you can grow
runnerbeans, peas and other seeds in toilet rolls.  Did you know that once they’re happy little plants you can plant them straight into the ground?  The roots find their way out through the bottom and toilet rolls will break down into your soil no problem.

We sowed about twenty-five toilet rolls.  That’s a lot of plants sprouting up around London Road!

Want to get involved?  Email bethan.grow@gmail.com