We are often asked by potential customers if they can collect their polycrub kit from us by van or small trailer. This picture of two kits shows why a truck is needed. None of the materials are very heavy, but they are very loooooong. These kits were off to new homes in Orkney from our depot in Shetland.
It’s been a busy time here. Polycrub kits have been delivered all over Shetland and down to Orkney and the Hebrides. The polycrub pictured is 4 x 8m and this is proving a very popular size.
Harvesting has started in polycrubs all over Shetland. This weekend we’ve been munching on mangetout, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, peerie neeps (small turnips!), pak choi, peas, French beans and several varieties of lettuce. The first of the red onions are also ready.
In the past few weeks we’ve sold quite a few polycrubs, throughout Shetland. New ‘polycrubbers’ will soon be growing fresh fruit and veg in Eshaness, Ollaberry, Cunningsburgh, Dunrossness, Brae, Tingwall and the island of Yell. Happy growing!
We are often asked about the unusual name for our product. Polycrub.
Many of our would-be customers think it’s called a ‘polygrub’. No. It’s a Polycrub.
Some people ask why we don’t just call it a polytunnel – well, we’ll explain;
We’ve created something different. Robust. Durable. Resilient. So, we wanted to give it a different name.
Hundreds of years ago, Shetlanders needed somewhere sheltered to grow-on young kale (cabbage) plants, used mainly for animal fodder. Shelter is often not easily found in Shetland! It can be a bit breezy!
Stone was the building material of choice in past times. So our ancestors built round, stone-walled shelters to protect the young kale plants from the worst of the wind, until they were strong enough to be transplanted into ‘da kale yard’. Locally, this stone structure was known as a ‘planticrub’. Planticrubs can still be found, and are often still used, in Shetland today.
At nortenergy in the 21st century, our building material of choice is polycarbonate. We decided to merge the name of our chosen material with a name from past growing history in Shetland. The planticrub helped crofters nurture plants through the toughest of climatic conditions.
It was an ideal link to our 21st century design. The ‘polycrub’ was born.
Our polycrub builder extraordinaire, George Magnus Nicolson, has recently arrived back in Shetland from the Western Isles.
George Magnus has been building 6 polycrubs for the Horshader Community Development Company as part of a community growing project. The project received funding from the Climate Challenge Fund
Check out the Stornoway Gazette for more details and pictures:
nortenergy’s parent company, Northmavine Community Development Company, scooped a Shetland Environmental Award for a community polycrub project and the green credentials displayed.
Judging panel comments were:
‘A good practical project with some creative solutions to Shetland’s food issues and recycling of redundant salmon cages. The community focus resulted in a project which far surpassed what was anticipated and is now entering a phase which will make it a long-term, sustainable social enterprise’
One of our first polycrub kits was sold to a customer in the south end of Shetland, a few years ago.
The builder made a superb job of the kit and we particularly like the wooden boarding around the kit. He tweaked our basic design to suit his needs. This is the beauty of the polycrub – the only limit to improving our polycrub, is your imagination.
The ‘polycrub’ concept began as a community project in Northmavine, Shetland five years ago. Folk in Northmavine were keen to grow produce that hadn’t travelled hundreds (often thousands) of miles to get to Shetland. Growing produce locally also meant it would be fresh. Really fresh fruit and veg is not something we islanders at the tip of Britain are very accustomed to!
Climate Challenge Fund funding meant that we were able to build 12 community polytunnels here in Northmavine – around 50 people in our community can now grow fresh fruit and veg in a sheltered growing space.
Before the project started, we looked at lots of designs to create a polytunnel that could stand up to the Shetland weather. Some people in Shetland had already built sturdy growing spaces, so we tweaked these ideas and added some design details of our own to create a growing space that could withstand our harsh climate.
The community project created a lot of interest. Community groups and individuals wanted to recreate our design. We rebranded the structures as the ‘polycrub’ (‘poly’ from the polycarbonate covering we use and a ‘crub’ in Shetland is a sheltered growing area). We now sell polycrubs in kit form in Shetland and beyond. All profits from sales are passed back to our parent company, Northmavine Community Development Company, to be used for the benefit of the Northmavine community.