The URGE Feedback Page -
received some very encouraging letters and emails
regarding our venture.
You can read a selection of these comments below.
(Chief Executive, VisitShetland)
U.R.G.E. initiative is one of the very best
examples of how a small number of like-minded
individuals can come together and achieve so
much with so little to start with except ideas
and determination, in this case with the aim
of making Unst self sufficient in fruit and
vegetables. After identifying what was initially
an unpromising patch of land Sarah and her team
then had to literally break rocks manually before
the ground could be treated with seaweed and
compost to produce the necessary quality of
soil. Just to reach the point where the poly-tunnel
was in place took many man-hours of back-breaking
labour, and to have now reached a point where
the local community and economy are benefiting
from fresh produce is an amazing feat.
use of seaweed and chemical-free compost for
the soil, old car tyres to create wind-breaks,
used pallets for raised beds, etc., is a real
and practical example of recycling and the
fact that the produce is utilized locally
only adds to the project’s ecologically-friendly
credentials. The incredible range of fruits,
vegetables and herbs being grown, including
many more usually associated with warmer climes
such as peppers, grapes & kiwi fruits,
is also a reminder that the only limiting
factor to what can be grown in Shetland is
the imagination and resourcefulness of the
major benefit will be to the local tourism
sector - Shetland is rightly proud of the
quality of its fish, seafood and lamb and
now local accommodation providers can also
offer locally-produced fresh vegetables on
the menu. As an example of sustainable tourism
in action the market garden itself will be
an attraction in its own right in the coming
years and will draw many people seeking the
inspiration and knowhow of how such a scheme
gets off the ground, as well as those simply
wishing to taste wholesome, organic produce
as it should taste. U.R.G.E. is a participant
in the “Gardens of Scotland” charity,
2011 being the first year of participation
since the inception of the scheme in the 1930s,
and I would encourage anybody with an interest
in horticulture in the islands to plan a visit.
Hi Sarah, Jen, Dave Steve,
have just stumbled across your website whilst
looking for potential filming ideas for a
new gardening series I am making. Your story
is just the kind of thing we are looking for.
Please could one of you get back to me by
phone or email so I can find out a bit more
about what you are up to. We are looking to
make a short film showing vegetable growing
in a harsh environment and the north of Shetland
would certainly fit the bill. What veg are
you growing this year? Do you get all your
seeds from Suttons or do you have other suppliers?
I have lots of questions as I'm sure you can
to hear from you soon,
Dave " www.bbc.co.uk/gardening/
(Secretary, Shetland Horticultural Society)
thanks for your presentation on the work of URGE.
The members were truly inspired by the amount
of work you have put into the project and were
amazed at the amount, variety and quality of the
Many present are novice gardeners
and have been encouraged to get out and dig after
seeing the transformation possible in such poor
soil as you have in Unst. A visit to the project
to see the polytunnels in person is already on
the programme and will probably take place in
July. Be prepared for an invasion of enthusiasts! "
As an environmentalist and gardener, I,
like many other people have dreamed and talked
about taking a piece of land and turning it into
an allotment, a plot to provide freshly grown
vegetables for our families.
Whilst some of us dream on,
the URGE team had the vision to take the idea
of self-sufficiency a step further. They have
taken a piece of raw, uncultivated land and in
a short period of time have transformed it into
a productive, sustainable, environmental friendly
By their efforts they are able
to provide large quantities and varieties of fresh
produce for the local community whilst reducing
Unst’s carbon footprint.
Without outside funding, the
team have used their own resources and initiative,
have recycled all manner of materials to construct
raised beds and shelters from the wind; they have
hand-dug trenches of compost inside the increasing
numbers of polytunnels which provide the protection
and conditions needed for their crops.
They set an example to many
through their endeavours and it is hoped that
their project will continue to go from strength
to strength. "
(Environmental Management Officer,
Shetland Islands Council)
is to praise in the highest terms the work of
the Unst Regeneration Growers Enterprise.
The quality and variety of produce successfully
grown on very poor quality ground under difficult
weather conditions with a minimal budget is truly
amazing. The hard work of those taking part in
the project has demonstrated that a wide variety
of foods could be produced in Shetland and that
the community could move towards being more self
sufficient in fruit and vegetables.
The practical knowledge and experience gained
by the workers would be a useful resource for
others to tap into and to thus spread the good
practice Shetland-wide. "
visited URGE with my partner in October 2010
as research for a book on growing fruit and
vegetables in Scotland. The visit to Unst was
the culmination of a grand tour of some of the
most beautiful, if hardly veg-friendly, places
in the country. We had started in Barra and
moved up the Outer Hebrides to Lewis, across
to Orkney and on to Shetland.
Urge was very impressive in
both its vision and its achievements. The small
team of committed individuals has created quite
an incredible number of fertile growing places
on what looks like pretty inhospitable ground.
Huge amounts of ingenuity in terms of found
materials put to good use and recycling of all
sorts means that beds and borders with their
various windbreaks may look a little Heath Robinson
– but it all works, and to such an extent
that produce was being sold throughout last
season to local retailers and catering establishments
at the rate of seven kilos of salad leaves a
week amongst other things.
It was a very great pleasure
to visit Unst and truly inspiring to see what
can be done by horticulturalists hell-bent on
achieving the impossible!
people sit around and talk about it.......,
others get on with it and do it.
The URGE Group on Unst, Shetland,
with vision, enthusiasm and the capacity for
sheer hard work have created a community project
in less than three years that has transformed
useless poor land into a profitable food producing
unit selling to hotels, restaurants, and local
against the Shetland weather and making creative
use of recycled materials, the development of
this project proves that anything can be achieved
against the odds if you have enough passion.
congratulate all who have created this amazing