In February 2013, Kate Redpath contacted Northern Polytunnels for help with her unique and edible dream - The Tarland Community Garden. The project, which is based in Aberdeenshire, leases gardening space to its members and it aims to encourage local production of vegetables and fruit, whilst also providing all-weather growing facilities in a challenging climate.


At the heart of the community garden is a 30ft wide x 90ft long polytunnel, complete with 29 raised beds. There are also an additional 36 outdoor raised beds on the plot, of which 2 are wheelchair accessible. The raised beds can be rented by individuals or groups, allowing people from the local community to grow their own fruit, vegetables, and flowers.  


Two of the groups who rent raised beds are Tarland Playgroup, who get to choose between a walk in the woods or a trip to the polytunnel, with the tunnel always winning hands down, and the Tarland School Nursery. Apparently, the nursery plant lots of garlic in their raised bed as the children like to make and eat garlic bread (and who can blame them!)


The children just love digging and also enjoy hunting for “beasties” such as spiders and worms. When it’s cold and windy outside, the polytunnel also provides a warm, safe space for the youngsters to play and learn. The plot also boasts communal planting areas, which feature a soft fruit cage, espalier fruit trees, a herb garden and a permaculture garden. 


Kate Redpath said: “Both members and visitors comment on the calm atmosphere in the polytunnel, probably a combination of the soft, diffused light, and getting out of the cold wind. Despite the fact that each member’s bed is only 4ft by 8ft, some people visit twice a day and spend time chatting, as well as tending to their vegetables”. 


The garden has not only provided a space to grow but has also created a social focus. People with an interest in growing have been encouraged to share expertise and skills, particularly organic growing methods. The project also encourages non-members to attend the free gardening workshops and to use the communal parts of the garden.


An American professor and her students recently visited the garden and she was so impressed that she said she would be visiting again the next year. The project so far is a roaring success. Membership is renewed on an annual basis and there is currently a waiting list for raised bed rental. Members are responsible for the upkeep of their raised beds and all communal areas.


Since we took on this project in 2013, we’ve worked with hundreds of schools, care homes and other community-based projects across the UK to provide specialist polytunnel kits ideally suited to their needs. Our hobby range now boasts a school polytunnel kit and a wheelchair accessible polytunnel bundle designed specifically for the needs of care home residents.


Whether you're a primary school looking for an ever-changing classroom where young minds can learn about nature, a residential home seeking to improve the physical and mental well-being of your residents, or a mental health facility wanting to explore the efficacy of horticulture therapy, we can help provide the right polytunnel gardening solution for you. 


To contact our team, please email or call 01282 873120