Louise Morris tells her story of how receiving a ‘Peerie Voar’ seed kit in 2020 stimulated her interest in growing, leading to taking courses and exams through the Royal Horticultural Society.
I started growing vegetables last year with the help of Northmavine Community Development Company's (NCDC) Peerie Voar Kits, which included seed packets and a voucher for pots and compost from Da Barn.
Up until last year I considered myself a hazard to the plant kingdom, leaving many dead or dying houseplants in my wake. My grandad was a market gardener in Orkney, and my mum is a keen gardener, so I figured the family green thumb had skipped over me.
Despite my lack of any natural talent for growing things, I am interested in environmental issues and like to do my bit to help the planet.
In the early 2000s I secured lottery funding for a small community composting project, providing around 60 compost bins and information packets to households in Bressay. I have also been concerned about food miles, and was recently mortified when I discovered that the garlic I had been buying from the supermarket was grown in China! I felt I should have been paying closer attention to where my food comes from, and that I could certainly get garlic and other vegetables closer to home.
So when I received NCDC's seed packets last year, along with access to free pots and soil, I decided it was time for me to give growing my own a go. I am thankful that the seeds sourced by Da Barn – lettuce, early onward peas (see image), and nasturtiums - were fairly easy for the novice gardener and included clear instructions.
Had it not been for the low barrier to entry I think I may not have even tried.
Once my seeds were planted I enjoyed watering them and watching them sprout and grow. When I cut my first bunch of lettuce (see image below) to have with our tea I was hooked. I had no idea the satisfaction I would feel from eating home-grown veg.
I enjoyed my first growing season so much that I decided I wanted to learn more. I searched online for horticulture classes and came across the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) qualifications and signed up with one of their distance learning providers. I am currently studying for my RHS Level 2 Certificate in the Principles of Plant Growth, Propagation & Development through the Horticultural Correspondence College.
I was delighted to read in The Shetland Times (5 February 2021) that NCDC had been awarded Crown Estate funding to expand on their obviously successful track record of helping others grow their own. I particularly appreciate that their “Growing Local” project will include gathering and preserving local knowledge to pass along to new Northmavine growers like me.
Thanks to NCDC I now have a love of growing which has opened new doors I did not expect to find. Now my free time is taken up with reading gardening books from the library, listening to RHS podcasts, and learning about plant biology. All from a Peerie Voar Kit popped through our front door last year.