Photo by Flickr/Christophe PINARD
A long winter night in Iceland is inhospitable to green growth. But with the help of automatic lighting and geothermal heat, the Friðheimar greenhouse in Reykholt, Iceland, manages to keep tomatoes thriving year-round, producing 370 tons of fruit annually — about 16 percent of the tomatoes Iceland’s populace consumes per year. Any unmarketable specimens go into the soup on offer at the farm’s restaurant, allowing visitors to sample the fruit as well as learn how it’s grown.
The Friðheimar family farm, built up over 23 years by agronomist Knútur Rafn Ármann and horticulturalist Helena Hermundardóttir, is a tourist-friendly facility, known for its multiple geothermal greenhouses and the horticulture presentations given inside; its restaurant that serves up tomato soup and fresh-baked bread among the plants; its stable of Icelandic horses; and its summer horse shows. The farm’s goal is to grow tomatoes with optimum flavor in eco-friendly facilities, and to increase diversity in the Iceland tomato market by occasionally introducing new cultivars. Conditions inside its greenhouse are highly climate-controlled to help the plants flourish. The temperature, humidity, lighting, and watering systems are linked to a central computer and can thus be monitored and adjusted from afar. Plus, the greenhouse uses biological pest control, and can enhance photosynthesis by releasing carbon dioxide produced from natural geothermal steam. These top-of-the-line technologies ensure quality as well as sustainability inside this Icelandic tomato haven. For more information, visit Friðheimar’s website.