Polytunnels are usually used to grow food. But commercial enterprises could consider branching out and using a polytunnel in another, more innovative way. In addition to using a commercial polytunnel as a primary food growing area, businesses could also consider these other innovative uses for a commercial polytunnel:
Propagation Space for Small Farms & Commercial Producers
If you do own a farm or other food growing business, you may already use polytunnels as primary growing areas for a range of crops. But there are other ways to use a commercial polytunnel.
Rather than thinking of a polytunnel as a main growing area, you could also utilise a polytunnel as a kind of incubator, where you can rear seedlings and propagate your plants. While you may already do these things in a polytunnel or polytunnels that you already own, having a separate polytunnel that you can dedicate entirely to plant reproduction and the raising of young plants could be a good idea.
If you have a smallholding or farm, a polytunnel entirely given over to propagation space could allow you to diversify into selling not only food but also plants or seeds. The same could be true for small-scale businesses which grows specific herbs or flowers for market, and could allow such a business to grow and thrive.
Inventory or Stock Storage Facility
Businesses of all kinds can benefit from a little extra space. Many businesses find that they have to carefully manage their inventory or stock control in order to be able to fit everything into the space that they have available. Hiring or buying extra storage facilities can be expensive. If you have grounds available, a polytunnel could be a cost-effective solution.
Polytunnels do not have to be the clear plastic structures that are used to grow food. You can also buy polytunnel covers that block out the light. These covers are ideally suited to polytunnels that are used by businesses as storage facilities. Check out our covers to see which polytunnel cover might be the best one for your needs.
Commercial Polytunnel Workshop
If you make something for a living, workshop space may be at a premium. Perhaps you work with wood, or make craft items. Perhaps you make household items, artwork, toys or clothing… There are a range of different businesses that could benefit from having a dedicated workshop, whether your business is currently located in commercial premises or you run your business out of your own home.
A polytunnel could be the perfect solution for your workshop needs. Polytunnels are far cheaper to buy and erect than other sorts of structures, and they can be flexible too. Erecting a polytunnel on your garden or close to other commercial buildings could give you the space you need for your business to flourish.
Commercial Café or Restaurant
Many businesses, such as farms, shops, campsites or other accommodation venues may find it useful to be able to provide meals and refreshments to visitors. A polytunnel could become a wonderful venue for a new eatery, to expand your business and diversify into hospitality.
A polytunnel could easily be kitted out beautifully to provide a rustic yet comfortable outdoors-indoors dining experience for paying guests. A space that combines some food or ornamental plant growing areas with tables and chairs for diners could become a magical place to serve some of the food grown elsewhere on your property, or in your local area. It could become a unique selling point for your business. Think carefully about lighting, and consider using renewable power. You could also consider a solar array to power heating, so that this cafe or restaurant area can be used even during the coldest winter months. Alternatively, a carefully installed solid fuel stove or heater could heat the space during the chilliest part of the year.
Commercial Event or Wedding Venue
Hotels, farms and other commercial ventures may also benefit from branching out into the events industry. Weddings could be a lucrative avenue to explore, especially in picturesque areas. But there are also plenty of other event options that you could consider. For example, you could run corporate events, or specialised events for sportsmen and women, artists, writers, or for relaxation -such as spa days or yoga retreats. No matter what kind of events you are considering putting on, a polytunnel could become a key venue for your new enterprise.
A polytunnel could be kitted out to become a quirky place for a wedding ceremony or a wedding reception. It could be a meeting room for summer events, or a place to hold workshops or conferences. Having a polytunnel means having a versatile undercover area where people can congregate. This could make getting a polytunnel a great idea for your growing business.
Campsite Hang Out or Camp Kitchen
Campsites or glamping sites could consider purchasing a polytunnel for use as an ancillary recreational space on their site. Whether they are staying in tents, caravans, campervans, motorhomes, or in quirky cabins, tree houses, wigwams, yurts, pods or other unusual accommodation, campers may really appreciate being able to enjoy a hang out space or camp kitchen that can afford some shelter from the elements in inclement weather.
A polytunnel could be an affordable way to create a hang out space for campers with, for example, a seating area, and perhaps some games. A camp kitchen would allow campers and glampers staying in accommodation without cooking facilities to whip up something or other even when it is too rainy to have a campfire or barbecue outside. It would also provide a space to wash up dishes and prepare food easily.
Glamping in a Polytunnel
Camping and glamping sites could even go one stage further and create the option for their guests to glamp within a polytunnel. Placing a tent-like structure of some kind inside a polytunnel could give you the opportunity to create a kind of biodome where your guests can relax and unwind without having to worry about the weather outside.
Success for camping and glamping venues is all about creating something unique – special accommodation options that your guests cannot enjoy anywhere else. Perhaps glampers staying in the polytunnel could also pick some crops from right outside ‘their’ front door, within the magical polytunnel world that you have created for them.
A Swimming Pool or Hot Tub for Guests
Venues where people stay for the night – be they campsites, glamping locations, hotels or self-catering accommodation options – could also consider purchasing a polytunnel in which to place a swimming pool or hot tub for their guests. Covering a swimming pool or hot tub with a polytunnel structure could make it more appealing for use throughout the whole year.
An eco-friendly option could include the formation of a natural swimming pool, which will not require polluting chemicals or expensive upkeep. You may also be able to consider creating a wood fired hot tub, as long as it vents outside the structure and fire safety is taken into consideration.
A Commercial Play Room for Kids
Businesses could also consider their younger guests and dedicate the space within a polytunnel to the kids. Creating a play room could be a great way to bring in families, and make sure that those of all ages come to contribute to the success of your business.
A polytunnel play room could include elements for soft play, space for art and crafts, facilities for dress-up and imaginative play. Your polytunnel playroom could be themed. It could be a magical fairy realm, it could be a castle for princes and princesses. It could be a ‘jungle’ full of cuddly animals, or even a space ship travelling through outer space… the options are almost endless.
A Seasonal Commercial Attraction
Another way that you might be able to use a polytunnel to draw customers to your location or make extra money for your business is by turning a polytunnel into a special commercial attraction for a particular holiday or season.
For example, you might be able to create a magical Christmas grotto where Santa Claus can see the children and dole out gifts to those who have behaved. You could have a haunted Halloween venue for the brave to creep through, or an Easter themed egg hunt in a flower-filled tunnel in the spring…
These are just some examples of the many different ways that you might be able to use a commercial polytunnel to add value to your business. Use your imagination and you will soon see that a polytunnel could be far more versatile and useful than you ever imagined. Do you have your own innovative use for a commercial polytunnel? Let us know in the comments below.
Elizabeth Waddington is a writer and green living consultant living in Scotland. Permaculture and sustainability are at the heart of everything she does, from designing gardens and farms around the world, to inspiring and facilitating positive change for small companies and individuals.
She also works on her own property, where she grows fruit and vegetables, keeps chickens and is working on the eco-renovation of an old stone barn.