Pickled Pair: Sustainable Sheffield

Does Sheffield have the ingredients to become a sustainable city for food? Follow Pickled Pair on day one of a packed foodie trip to find out.


Does Sheffield have the ingredients to become a sustainable city for food? That was the question in the crisp South Yorkshire air when Jacquie Bance and Tom Tanner from the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) came to visit our city late November.

I’d invited them to take a trip out of the capital to meet some of Sheffield’s Foodie Megas to find out what we get up to when it comes to growing, producing, shopping and dining in Sheffield.


Problems with the Choo-Choos (Thomas and Jimmy)

In spite of arriving fashionably late, thanks to a cancelled St Pancras to Sheffield service, we received a warm welcome at Mr Pickles’ Foodstore on Abbeydale Road from co-owner Paul Widdowson. He’d asked Huw from Sheffield Organic Growers Association and Angela from Firs Farm in Ringinglow to join us, and we had a very interesting chat about growing and farming in Sheffield. Provenance is a cornerstone of Mr Pickles’: everything they sell is either made or supplied in Yorkshire. Paul knows more than his onions – he can tell you how long Angela’s beef has been hung, when the Jerusalem artichokes from Meersbrook are on their way, and why a Loose Bird is one of the tastiest chicks around. Mr Pickles’ is a regional food hub selling not just to shoppers who care about where their food comes from but also to local chefs who care about putting good food in our bellies.


Tom loved the piglets at Whirlow


Next stop was to Whirlow Hall Farm Trust where we were greeted with a cheery hello from Sam Trepte, farm operations manager, and introduced to Neville and Steve (who look after pretty much everything that is grown and reared on the farm). Whirlow is a charity and working farm on the edge of the city, set up in the 1970’s to give kids in Sheffield access to the countryside and to learn about where their food comes from. It now has a shop and café in a lovely barn in the farm yard and holds beer and bangers nights in their lambing barn. We had the full tour including a stroll around the vineyard (yes, Sheffield has one of those too) but we had been advised to bring our wellies as lots of rain had left the farm pretty muddy. There was plenty of Yorkshire cackling as Tom set off in the closest thing he had to a pair of wellies (black leather slip-ons, hopefully not Jimmy Choos). We met up with Simon Ayres too. Simon is Head Chef at the Showroom Cinema, where you’ll find lots of Whirlow produce on the menu.  They do good business together – Simon will design his menus according to what Sam has on offer; when there is a glut of green tomatoes up at the farm, Simon will be in the kitchen bottling jars of chutney.


Green tomatoes make good chutney


Italian charm on cosmopolitan Ecclesall Road

Back down to Ecclesall Road for another warm welcome, this time from Gian Bohan. Owner of Sheffield institution, Nonnas, as well as the founder of the magnificent L’Eroica in the UK, Gian, did what all good Italians do – gave us superb coffee laced with lots of charm, and shared his passion for seasonal produce.

Last stop before dinner was Jonty's on Sharrow Vale Road where Nick from Porterbrook Deli had gathered some of his favourite producers together: Jane, the creator of Tipple Tails cakes; forager and preserver Hedgrow Si; and Moya from Barra Organics, the new greengrocer open on Sharrowvale Road. A lively discussion about producing food properly and sustainably with this passionate and rowdy bunch, and much food for thought .


Scandinavian style on Brocco Bank

A quick check-in at newly opened and fabulous Brocco before hot-footing it down to Kelham Island for an early bird supper at The Milestone. We had hoped to catch-up with owner, Matt Bigland, but he was deep in builders dust with his latest venture, the excellent Craft & Dough. Matt and I are meeting next month and I am really looking forward to it – he has championed the food and sustainability agenda in Sheffield ever since he opened his first restaurant, The Milestone, back in 2006.

At the end of a packed first day, I think Jacquie and Tom could not wait to head back to Brocco to luxuriate in what must surely be the best rooms in Sheffield. We had met some real food heroes on our first day, and the next promised to be equally interesting with meetings arranged with Eat Sheffield, both our universities, a local newspaper, prominent councillor and two of Sheffield’s most famous farms.

Look out for my next post where I’ll be sharing more about of our Sheffield food trip.





The Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) is a national, not-for-profit membership organisation providing foodservice businesses with expert sustainability advice through a team of specialist account managers. The SRA helps its Members source food more sustainably, manage resources more efficiently and work more closely with their community.  Members enjoy the economic benefits of greater sustainability and the SRA promotes their activities to consumers.



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