IN A NUTSHELL
We're a workers' co-op of fruit tree growers looking to our friends, supporters and the wider community to help us establish our new fruit tree nursery and heritage orchard near Sheffield. Funds will go towards:
- A borehole, pump and irrigation system
- An orchard training building/nursery office/toolstore
- A set of tools to maintain the site
- Fencing and gates to protect our nursery trees
- Compost, woodchip and other organic soil improvers
- Volunteer expenses for our orchard-planting workdays
WHO WE ARE
We are Julie, Daniele and Oli, and together we run Sheffield Fruit Trees.
We're a workers' co-operative fruit tree nursery and our aim is to provide Sheffield and South Yorkshire with fruit trees.
We run a donation scheme to give trees to community groups and organisations, as well as supplying trees to allotmenters, councils and commercial gardeners.
We want the Sheffield of the future to have fruit trees in every park and on every street corner, and this project is a fundamental part of making that a reality.
We are a social enterprise, meaning we run our business for social and environmental purposes. And as a workers' co-op we operate on a non-profit basis - once we have covered our labour and material costs all surpluses go back into the business to enable us to realise our aims more fully.
In our times of changing climate and biodiversity loss, we believe its not just possible but necessary to create long-term sustainable livelihoods doing this kind of work.
Sheffield Fruit Trees grew out of the Abundance project - an initiative that began in 2007 to harvest and redistribute fruit growing around Sheffield that was otherwise going to waste.
Groups of volunteers went around the city scoping out forgotten trees growing on riverbanks and by railway lines, gradually building up a map of the fruit trees growing here. Inspired by what they'd discovered, a few members decided to try their hand at grafting new trees using cuttings taken from these 'Sheffield varieties', with the aim of building and increasing the local abundance of fruit.
Skipping forward to 2018, we branched off from Abundance with the aim of creating a standalone social enterprise fruit tree nursery. For the past four years we have been steadily building this project to the point where we now grow 400 new trees every year. We estimate that since then we've sent around 1100 fruit trees out into the world!
However, we've reached the limit of what we can do on the small community allotment plot where we've been based since 2018, so we've taken a leap and moved to a larger site just to the south of Sheffield.
We've taken on 0.5 acres of former hay meadow on the Sheffield Organic Growers site in Moss Valley.
Our plan is to establish a larger tree nursery with the capacity to cultivate up to 1000 new trees per year, and to plant an orchard of rare local fruit varieties alongside to provide us with the cuttings to graft new trees and preserve these unique varieties.
To make the move a successful one we need to add a few key elements to the site. We have already secured match funding from the Forestry Commission for half of the costs and are now looking to our community and beyond for the rest, so this is where you come in!
At the top of our shopping list is a borehole and an irrigation set-up to go alongside it. There is no mains water on the site, so this is the best option for providing the trees with the water they need to grow. As well as the borehole itself you will be funding a solar-powered pump, drip-feed irrigation pipes and three 1000L containers to see us through the drier parts of the year.
Next up is a shed which we will commission local tradespeople to build for us. This will enable us to run classroom sessions as part of our workshops in orchard management and fruit tree propagation. The shed will also serve as tool storage, provide office space and give us some shelter on rainy days.
Part of the funds we raise will pay for bulk deliveries of organic matter to bring some life back to the soil and provide nutrients for our first batch of trees - the site has been farmed for hay for many years, meaning the soil is heavily compacted from machinery use and and depleted of nutrients from decades of relying on chemical fertilisers to generate a crop.
We know that the future of food-growing needs to be based on techniques that build soil and bring in biodiversity, so a key part of our project will be to regenerate this patch of land so that it can not only support a tree nursery but also provide habitat for pollinating insects and other creatures.
Finally some of the funding will go towards providing hot drinks and snacks for the volunteers who will come to help plant the trees, dig the beds and hammer in the fenceposts. We can't do all of this on our own!
Knowing that people believe in the value of the work we do is what keeps us going. We're motivated to take this project to its next phase because of the positive impacts we know it can have. We're really grateful to everyone who can help us realise our vision.
Thank you for all of your support!
Sheffield Fruit Trees badge:
Bramall Lane Champagne tote bag (natural):
Sharrow Pippin a.k.a Giblet print, tote bag (natural colour) and t-shirt (green):
Bramall Lane Champagne illustration for print, tote bag, and t-shirt (white colour):
Sharrow Pippin (a.k.a Giblet) t-shirt (green):
Potted apple/plum tree: