A friend, I trust recommended going to Fridheimar Tomato Farm in Iceland. “and be sure to make a reservation”. It turned out my artist residency at Gullkistan in Laugarvatan is not far from the tomato emporium. So it was a no brainer, to drive to Fridheimar for lunch. When you can see snow on the mountains, how to resist eating among the tomato vines.
So what’s so special? The greenhouses are heated by geothermal water. The water flows into the greenhouses at 203 degrees F. Cold water is used for irrigation. The green electricity is from hydro and geothermal power plants providing the lighting for all the crops.
For me the interesting aspect of Fridheimar is the way they manage pests. The mirid bug (Macrolophus caliginosus) is imported from Holland and eats just about all the insect pests found in this and all Icelandic greenhouses.
Bumble bees are also imported form Holland and they pollinate the tomato plants. At Fridheimar there are about 600 bees that work pollinating flowers, and each bee can visit up to 2,000 flowers a day.
The growers of Fridheimar use volcanic tuff, such as pumice from Mt. Hekla, as a growing media, which can be used continuously for several years. Growing in pumice makes it simpler to control moisture and fertilization than if soil is used.
The tomatoes are cultivated in turf, and plants are renewed twice a year. A system of interplanting is used: young plants are planted in between older plants and the two grow side by side for seven to eight weeks. As the tomatoes are ready to pick on the older plants, the first tomatoes on the young plants are turning red.
The restaurant features a menu, of what else, tomatoes in everything from soup to drinks to ice cream. Every table sports a pot of basil, scissor included, in case you want to add some fresh basil to your soup, pasta, or tortilla.
Some might feel the whole place is some kind of tourist trap… and yes the parking lot is full of buses; in a country where half of the country’s land area is of volcanic origin; 1% is cultivated; 10% is covered by glaciers… it’s just amazing that Fridheimar exists at all and exists as a totally green facility.
and just for fun…