New street tree festival planned for Sheffield

Sheffield tree lovers are gearing up for a double celebration with a street festival and special poem.

The city’s first ever street tree festival has been organised and will include a new poem composed especially for Sheffield trees by internationally renowned writer and Cambridge University fellow Robert Macfarlane.

Organisers say the festival, on Saturday, September 29, at the Merlin Theatre in Nether Edge, will be “a joyful and thought-provoking celebration” of the city’s street trees.

It will feature writers, artists, tree experts and musicians. There will also be discussions, book readings, craft workshops, poetry writing, yoga and informative walks around the local area.

The grand finale will be Robert reading the new poem Heartwood which he describes as ‘a spell-song, a charm against harm for all trees everywhere threatened with unjust felling’.

Robert was inspired to write it when he learned that Vernon Oak, a 150-year-old tree in Vernon Road, Dore, was fronting a crowdfunding campaign to raise enough money to give a copy of The Lost Words, a book that he and Jackie Morris created together, to every primary school in Sheffield.

Local musicians Sally Goldsmith and Val Regan have been setting Heartwood to music and it will be performed by a community choir brought together especially for the festival. Artwork created to accompany the poem by multi-award-winning illustrators Jackie Morris and Nick Hayes will also be unveiled.

One of the organisers, Margaret Peart, said: “Anyone who’s been involved in the campaign to save Sheffield’s street trees over the past few years knows how hard it’s been and how the day-to-day stresses have had an effect on the physical and mental well-being of campaigners.

“In spite of this, some very positive things have emerged from it all: strong friendships; an outpouring of creativity, and the formation of active, highly committed networks of residents.

“The festival is an opportunity to celebrate all those positives and bring in people from outside the city who have followed the story and want to support the campaign.”

Full details are available at https://sheffieldstreettreefestival.wordpress.com