- The URGE Feedback Page -

We've received some very encouraging letters and emails regarding our venture.
You can read a selection of these comments below.

Published in
Sept 2010

"   'SIC’s Environment Forum were in awe' ...   "

Click the link above to read the full Shetland News story.

You can download a copy of it in PDF format from here, if you prefer


Steve Mathieson

(Chief Executive, VisitShetland)

Jan 2011

"   The 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.

   The 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 grower.

   Another 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. "













Dave Paine

BBC Birmingham)

Jan 2011

" Hi Sarah, Jen, Dave Steve,

I 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 tell.

Hope to hear from you soon,

Dave "           www.bbc.co.uk/gardening/




Anne Anderson

(Secretary, Shetland Horticultural Society)

Nov 2010

  "   Many 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 produce grown.
    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!   "

Mrs Kathy Greaves

Jan 2011
  "  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 concern.
   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.   "


Mary Lisk

(Environmental Management Officer,
Infrastructure Services,
Shetland Islands Council

  "   This 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.   "

Peter Milne
   I 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!




Zero Carbon House


   Some 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 markets.

   Working 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.

   I congratulate all who have created this amazing real project.





Farmer's Market produce
Scrapped fish-boxes re-employed as growing trays