You might be surprised to know that Iceland grows a lot of its produce using renewable energy, including these great looking Iceland tomatoes which are supplied all year round.
Before we travelled to Iceland, our preconception was that it was a windswept place, with no trees and generally scrubby and uninspiring vegetation. So we were doubly delighted to find that not only are there trees (albeit not forests of them), but that on our visit the colours and textures of the plant life were truly beautiful and particularly true of Þingvellir national park.
As an island between Europe and Greenland, and close to neither of them, the costs of importing fresh fruit and vegetables must be huge, but the canny Icelanders have used the fact that they live somewhere geology is a living science to produce their own food. 100% of electricity in Iceland is produced from green sources: geothermal, hydroelectric and wind. And power is not just produced by large power stations: there are many places in the south west of the country where it’s possible to have private power generation. Imagine that – your own power station in your garden!
We visited one farm to see this in action. Friðheimar is a tomato and cucumber farm, heating and lighting their 5,000 square metres of greenhouse with power produced on site. It’s an impressive operation, producing on average one tonne of tomatoes per day, every day of the year. Plants are pollinated using bees imported from Holland, and as Iceland is so far north, pests aren’t that much of a problem (but even so, they use biological controls to combat the problem pests they do encounter). The climate inside the greenhouse is carefully controlled, with electric lighting, and heating all from geothermal energy. As a place to work, it must be quite uplifting: bright from the lights, and warm. Quite a change from an Icelandic winter.
Their plants are massive, growing and producing for 9 months, with their 9 metre stalks carefully trained round wires carrying them towards the ceiling, and the bright lights.
It’s not just a farm, either. Right in the middle of the greenhouse is a small restaurant, serving a tomato-based menu. We enjoyed a rich tomato soup with home-made bread and a selection of toppings, including cheese, cucumber salsa, sour cream and freshly cut basil from the pots on the tables, and pasta with tomato sauce. The non-alcoholic cocktails were especially good, with a “healthy Mary” of green tomato and lime juice with, honey, ginger, and sparkling water being refreshing and tasty. the puddins were all tomato based too, with a choice of tomato ice cream, cheese cake or a tomato and apple pie. When we mentioned to some Icelanders we had lunched at Friðheimar, they all agreed that it had been a good choice.
We just loved having lunch somewhere where technology has resulted in such a triumph as a farm growing great produce in such a green manner. It was a welcome respite from what unfortunately was quite a rainy and cold day and could have stayed for ages and have had a tomato cocktail. Friðheimar is an ideal stopping point for those doing a Golden Circle tour.
That looks amazing. Iceland is on my bucket list and has been since I was at primary school, I’ve heard about the way they harness the natural energy for their plant growth, really interesting to read more about that. The food looks lovely too.
it was fascinating. The heady scent of tomatoes in that greenhouse was like being transported to Tuscany.
Jemma @ Celery and Cupcakes
This does look incredible! I’ve always been fascinated by Iceland and definitely want to visit someday. It’s one of those obscure countries in the world that you don’t really hear that much about – definitely gives it an air of mystery I think.
I agree, you really don’t hear about it at all. Fascinating, and very beautiful place.
Becca @ Amuse Your Bouche
How fantastic to be able to enjoy the tomatoes within seconds of where they’re grown! I absolutely adore Iceland.
It was amazing. So interesting that their heated greenhouses are effectively carbon neutral.
Helen @ family-friends-food.com
We went to Iceland about 10 years ago and I’d love to go back. That farm looks amazing. I remember eating bananas that had been grown locally too! It’s an incredible country.
Wow I did not know about the local bananas, but it makes sense, as heat for the greenhouse is free once you have installed the pipes.
iceland is definitely on our list. We are hoping to go next year! This here sets a great mood for it!
Well fly Wow Air Meeta, it was amazingly cheap.
So interesting! I would love to visit there someday!
Fly with WOW Air Pam. Really very cheap flights from all over North America
Bintu - Recipes From A Pantry
How fabulous. I can’t wait to visit Iceland one day. I love the restaurant being in the middle of the farm. That is true farm to table produce.
you simply could not get fresher tomatoes
WOW!! I loved all the informations that you shared about Iceland!! I had no idea… Amazing!
It is an amazing country. if you get the chance go.
Christina | Christina's Cucina
This is the most ingenious set up! Just brilliant, Helen! It doesn’t look as though they are hydroponically grown; do you know if they are organic? I’d absolutely love to take a trip to Iceland on the way to or from the UK sometime. It would break up the long flight from LA, too! Hope to see more of Iceland from you!
They grow in a very small amount of earth, and I think that technically they cannot be organic due to how they are fed. Organic lite as it were.
I’ve been described as a “liberal environmentalist,” so this post is just fascinating. Clean energy is so important, but I had no idea Iceland had developed it to this degree!
My husband says Iceland is on his bucket list (he’s Danish), and I know we’ll go some day. I would never have guessed they produced much of their fresh food, and that they have a tomato-based restaurant/greenhouse to delight the senses, residents and travelers alike :-)
It is amazing, we were so impressed. With all those renewables energy is virtually free.
Such a fascinating read! I’ve only ever been in Iceland once, en route when I immigrated from Canada to Scotland in 1999. I spent five hours in the airport and I’ve been meaning to return ever since! We Shetland folk could learn a lot from our Icelandic neighbours.
I love that the fresh produce is all grown with green energy and there are no food miles.