Today I’d like to introduce someone very special to you - Penny Armstrong and Alan Robertson from Transition Turriefield. Since the first time I met them, back in 2013 I think, they’ve had my utmost respect and admiration for what they do. Not only they grow fruit and vegetables in Shetland’s extremely harsh and challenging climate but they also do it organically and in a sustainable way. Their aim is for as many people in Shetland as possible to be able to access healthy, fresh, chemical free produce and they want their growing methods have as little negative environmental impact as possible.
Penny, Alan and their wonderful bunch of dedicated volunteers supply local shops with fresh seasonal produce and they run a very popular vegetable box scheme too. They also supply some hotels and restaurants so they can feature local fruit and vegetables on their menus. And their passion is sharing knowledge so they also organise workshops and work with local schools. There are many people in Shetland who have already benefited from their expertise and enthusiasm.
Transition Turriefield is a Social Enterprise and it was established in January 2011. Turriefield is the name of the croft where Penny and Alan are based and the Transition part is their contribution to what we can do on a local scale to tackle the global problems of climate change, rising food prices, increasing food miles and diminishing supplies of cheap fuel.
After meeting Penny and Alan, I was thoroughly inspired by their hard work and persistence in turning a relatively difficult and wet patch of land into a fairly productive smallholding. On four acres they grow a wide range of fruit and vegetables. Most of the crops are grown outdoors but they also have six polytunnels made from redundant salmon cage pipes for crops that need more heat and shelter. They make every effort to keep their fossil fuel use to the minimum. That means as well as no chemical fertilisers, herbicides or pesticides, they don’t use tractors or machinery either. Just plenty of hard graft using hand tools and lots of care and attention to keep plants healthy and the bugs a bay…
Penny and Alan would like to increase what they grow so more local folk can get more local produce, all across Shetland. They also want to be able to run more training courses and support more people to grow their own fruit and veg.
But Penny and Alan can’t do it all this on their own so they’ve launched a Crowdfunder campaign to make Transition Turriefield more sustainable over the long term. They have continuously reinvested almost all the income generated by the sale of vegetables however now they need to raise funds for materials to build more polytunnels and raised beds. Their first target was £5,000, which they already reached, but they have a second ‘stretch’ target of £10,000 and they will only receive the money if they achieve these targets.
So I wanted to share this story with you and if you feel you’d like to support this fantastic and extremely valuable enterprise please consider making a small donation. You can access the Crowdfunder campaign here.
To find out more about Penny and Alan you can read their story here.