The Achiltibuie Hydroponicum has traditionally been one of the main tourist attractions in the village. It was originally set up by Robert Irvine in the ’80’s as a way of providing fresh fruit and vegetables for the Summer Isles Hotel. They famously grew bananas throughout the year.
This ‘garden of the future’ relies on liquid nutrients to grow plants and more details of how hydroponics work can be found here.
The Hydroponicum attracted up to 10,000 people a year and was also home to the Lilypond Cafe.
The future of the Hydroponicum has been in some doubt over recent years. It was sold to an Ullapool based company – Invisible Heating Systems – and from what i can gather was then leased back to 3 employees in the hope that they could make it profitable. There has since been some controversy over the terms of that lease and it was announced recently that a new company had been formed by the previous directors to take over and relocate from the current site. The Press and Journal covers the story and reports that a meeting is planned for next Tuesday (I presume the 27th May) to discuss the plans in the Community Hall.
The Hydroponicum was closed when we were last up and I believe still is. Best of luck to the former employees in their plans to resurrect this great local attraction.