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Sheffield Central

A Story... of an Edible Roof Garden

Sheffield Central Meeting House is located in the heart of our city, and as such has no grounds to call its own. We do, however, have a 2nd floor balcony - a south facing ‘room’ with a sky view...

For some years the roses in its bed have succumbed in the too strong sun; the rosemary bush has asserted herself at the door, wilful and wily; and two benches have sat at a distance, like an estranged couple, facing the same unblemished brick wall.Sheffield Meeting (C) Steve Loader

Following Canterbury, we held an event in our Meeting to go deeper into our commitment (to becoming a low-carbon, sustainable community) and what this meant for us. The day gave space to Friend’s fears: how do we do this together? Following an exercise from the Toolkit, visions emerged:

 

... apprenticeships... let’s meet young people halfway... cobblers, menders... a community allotment... a garden tour... plant fruit trees... share the fruits... find common interests...vegetables before flowers... local food... linked to the valleys nearby... a Quaker Meeting as a Centre for Excellence for Change... going beyond the individual... sharing resources... seeds to exchange...

Photo credit: Steve Loader

Out of this day, our LWP support group was inspired to carry out a survey of the Meeting – Grow Quakers! – to find out what skills and interests Friends have, or might like to cultivate, in growing and cooking food.

Here’s part of the ‘conversation’ that sprung from those pages:

 

‘I want to get my garden in order so it produces more, but I’m aware that this would need a lot of practical help.’

‘My growing skills definitely need developing.’

‘I have knowledge of gardening, including soils, composting and companion planting.’

‘I could help with planting or weeding now and then.’

Which voice might be your own...?

‘It would be nice to be part of a group. I don’t have much experience and would like more inspiration.’

‘Why don’t we grow a few vegetables on the QMH balcony - for demo purposes - and maybe draw some interest.’

 

This ‘conversation’ on paper quickly became a spoken one. Now, at the dawn of spring, Sheffield Central is supporting an experienced and passionate grower within our Meeting to oversee the transformation of our forgotten room into a vibrant roof garden of edible plants: herbs, fruit trees, and maybe even a few vegetables or two. As the sun warms, saplings stand in large pots: expectant.

Our room with a view is growing into a space of sensory delight. Friends are bringing their skills in service of the soil. And the couple now face one another. Why not come join the conversation?

Steve Loader
2011