THE FIRST STEP towards reviving the huge glasshouse in Tingwall is being taken with the help of a £10,000 lottery grant.
Local community action group Transition Shetland is hoping to help bring the building back to life after it has lain dormant for several years.
The group plans to appoint consultants to carry out a study into the feasibility of running the glasshouse as a community venture, making it available to individuals and groups to grow fruit, vegetables and other plants under glass.
They said the time was right to bring the glasshouse back into use with the growing interest in local food production and the popularity of polytunnels throughout the isles.
The study will examine the condition of the building and gauge the level of community support to take the project forward.
The idea was developed by Tingwall and Girlsta Development Association co-chairman Pete Glanville, who is a member of Transition Shetland and has been closely involved in the lottery bid.
“We are extremely pleased to have received this grant from the Big Lottery Fund,” he said.
“It is a major contribution towards turning the Tingwall glasshouse into what it was always meant to be, a viable and vibrant centre for growing.”
The group’s chairman Pete Bevington added: “A lot of people have been asking about this building and there is a clear desire within Shetland to see it being used productively.
“If we can demonstrate there is sufficient local interest to take this forward, then we believe it could become a real asset to this community – a real garden of Eden in the north.”
Transition Shetland has been meeting for more than two years to discuss how the islands should approach a future that holds twin threats from climate change and peak oil.
It holds monthly meetings, which are open to the public, at Islesburgh community centre, where topics have ranged from growing food and tackling waste, to transport and energy.
The next meeting is at 7pm on 18 February at which there will be a talk and discussion about organic wool production.
“We are always looking for new ideas and would welcome anyone who has an interest in Shetland’s future to come along,” Bevington said.
Highlands and islands list MSP Jean Urquhart has tabled a motion in the Scottish Parliament congratulating Transition Shetland.
Her motion also “notes what it sees as the enlightened thinking behind the Transition Network, which is active across the world and which recognises that infinite growth within a finite system, such as the Earth, is impossible, and commends its aim of creating happier, stronger and fairer communities in a future affected by high energy prices and climate change.”