Moya Sketchley, an artist, allotment holder, vegan and mother of two, set up Barra Organics with environmentalist husband Mark Mercer in 2012 in a desire to bring the freshest and best organically farmed fruit and vegetables to Sheffield.
The Sharrow Vale Road shop was named national Rising Star 2016 in the BOOM (Best Of Organic Market) Awards and works with a host of local producers, often ensuring produce has gone from field to shelf in a matter of hours. Moya lives in Rotherham.
Back to nature places
I’m a nature lover at heart and love exploring Sheffield’s ancient woodlands and moors with my dog Jess. My all-time magical places are Big Moor and Barbrook out on the main A road via Totley to Chatsworth, where I have come across wild deer and skylarks. Closer to home, I love bluebell time at Woolley Woods in Wincobank. It’s a carpet of blue there - quite magnificent. I recently loaned an electric bike and really enjoyed my commute to the shop. My route took in parts of the Trans Pennine Trail via Meadowhall and along the Five Weirs walk.
Sharrow Vale Road’s mix of independent shops
This was the only place in Sheffield we wanted our shop to be. It has such a wonderful vibe to it and attracts not only the local community but day-trippers from across South Yorkshire and Derbyshire. Alongside the delis and cafes you find great secondhand bookshops, picture framers, galleries and antique yards to rummage in.
It also as a vibrant street market. Community-run markets in Sheffield are going from strength to strength in Sheffield. They greatly contribute to an area’s charm and give small producers and sellers an inexpensive way to find their feet.
Yorkshire Sculpture Park
I was lucky enough to work here as a tour guide and workshop leader for school groups when my kids were still at school and still find it a very special place to be inspired and relax in. I always loved working with very young children and would just adore the way they could grasp often quite complex ideas expressed by contemporary art with none of the hang-ups shown by adults.
The Abundance Project
My first serious practical introduction to the world of urban growing and the wider issues of food waste and food poverty came as a volunteer with Grow Sheffield. The Abundance Project was in some ways an innovative, quirky forerunner to the highly effective Junk Food Project. People with unharvested fruit would contact Abundance, who would harvest and the redistribute fruit in the community. Sadly this project has now lost its funding, but many of the people I met through this very diverse group have gone on to create really interesting social projects, which i think is wonderfully empowering and very Sheffield.
Local organic producers
We are blessed with some amazing organic and biodynamic growing projects in Sheffield and it is an honor to be able to support them by selling their produce in the shop. Look out for their organic growing classes and open days as it’s a wonderful thing to see food growing in harmony with nature rather than against it.
Welbeck School of Artisan Food
This beautiful food school on the Welbeck Estate just outside Worksop has had an immeasurable impact on the ambitions of a generation of Sheffield food businesses and the quality of their produce. We have been organising workshops on traditional pickling and fermentation techniques for a couple of years but having now attended one of Welbeck’s amazing hands-on courses, we now know how to do it even better.
The Wortley Arms
This place makes for a truly wonderful dining experience, masquerading as a cosy, traditional pub. The chef has his own allotment adjoining the pub and if you give the kitchen notice, the chef will create a special, printed out vegan menu. It’s a great place for a big family get together or a special occasion meal.