Volcanoes are secret ingredient of Icelandic farmers

Icelandic farmers' secret ingredient? Volcanoes

For 6 months, temperature on remote farm of Pall Olafsson in Iceland is below freezing as sun appears barely.

However, light & heat allow Olafsson in his greenhouses to grow juicy tomatoes & cucumbers even in winter’s depth largely thanks to geothermal energy which gives title to his tiny North Atlantic nation considered as land of ice & fire.

“When we started using the lights and growing all year round, then it changed a lot. (Before), you were picking the last tomatoes in November and next you pick in April. Maybe 20 years ago, it was like that”

Hot springs bubble up from earth turning Hveravellir into the biggest vegetable farms in Iceland producing 500 tonnes of cucumber, paprika & tomatoes annually.

Volcanic origins of Iceland, have blessed 350,000 inhabitants of Iceland with a renewable resource “geothermal energy” which is unlike wind or solar power unaffected by unpredictable weather.

Geothermal energy makes a quarter of electricity up of Iceland comes from renewable sources has been helping to boost year-round availability of fresh food in past two decades.



Hot springs are a key source power for artificial lights besides piping hot water naturally in to warm greenhouses that help farmers grow crops in winter when island sees the sun barely three hours.

Icelandic farmers began lighting their greenhouses artificially 20 years ago.

However, real game-changer was the key technology allowed farmers to control every detail from a smartphone remotely.

“We have a steering computer in every greenhouse connected to our weather station, connected to our model PC computer, which is connected to the internet. So whenever I go somewhere I always have my iPhone with me and I can water the plants, open windows, and change settings or steer everything through my phone”

Double whammy of 2008 financial crisis besides a volcanic eruption in 2010 that prevented planes from landing, encouraged self-sufficiency.

Half cucumbers & tomatoes sold are locally grown as its a common sense for a remote, disaster-prone island to output its own food besides selling local production.

“The authorities do not care if the food is imported or locally grown, as long as it is not contaminated with harmful chemicals etc. I often say to the government, if we decide to use 1 percent of electricity to make healthy, good food for ourselves, that would be great. But of course (they) would have to lower the prices to the farmers”

World Economic Forum

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