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Fruit and vegetable production will see a marked increase in Northmavine this year, thanks to a successful funding application to the Climate Challenge Fund (CCF) by the Northmavine Community Development Company (NCDC). As a result of the funding, redundant salmon cage equipment will be used to create 12 community polytunnels in the parish.
The project, which received £41,821 from CCF, is part of the remit of Northmavine Community Powerdown officer, Colin Dickie. Colin is employed by the NCDC to find ways of reducing Northmavine's environmental impact and also to reduce fuel costs for local people, where possible.
A significant part of Colin's job is to find ways of increasing local food production to reduce food miles and encourage healthier ways of eating. Due to the tremendous enthusiasm in Northmavine for horticulture, the community poly tunnel concept was born. Landowners and crofters have pledged land to 'host' twelve polytunnels throughout Northmavine. Each 'host' has offered spaces in the structure for other members of the community to use.
The frames for the structures will be created from recycled pipe from salmon farms which will be clad with rigid polycarbonate sheeting to help withstand the Shetland weather. Redundant walk-ways from the salmon cages will be used as paths within the poly tunnels.
Over the past few months the NCDC has rescued almost 5 tonnes of walkway and feed pipe. This equates to around one kilometre of plastic pipe. Reuse will mean reduction in disposal costs for salmon farms and a diversion of the materials from landfill. Powerdown Officer, Colin Dickie, said, 'We would like to say a big thank you to Shetland Seafarms for all the assistance they have given us in sourcing and securing the redundant materials. David Brown of Shetland Seafarms has been especially helpful and has gone out of his way to help with this project.'
In addition to the environmental and health benefits the community poly tunnel project can bring, Colin sees a wider social benefit to Northmavine. As he explained, 'The poly tunnel project will allow folk of all ages to work together and share their experiences and skills. It's an ideal way of younger folk learning from older, experienced growers. A project such as this brings folk together and provides a common interest that everyone can benefit from'.
Although the number of poly tunnel "hosts" for the project is nearing capacity, Colin is still keen to hear from anyone in Northmavine who would like more information about the venture. The NCDC is also keen to stress that the poly tunnel concept is easily replicated and could be undertaken by any individual or community in Shetland. Colin is happy to share the knowledge he has gained so far and anyone who would like to hear more should contact the NCDC office at Greenbrae, South Collafirth, Ollaberry on 01806 544222.