A Tomato Grows in Iceland

Geothermal heats Friðheimar, a greenhouse tomato farm in Iceland.

Geothermal heats Friðheimar, a greenhouse tomato farm in Iceland.

Amid the black sand beaches, boisterous geysers, and Viking ruins something more miraculous exists in Iceland: a tomato farm. The Friðheimar farm grows tomato plants in an environmentally sustainable greenhouse miles away from Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital city.

The greenhouse itself is geothermal powered year round due to Iceland’s uniquely volcanic landscape. Naturally hot and cold water is pumped into the greenhouse through well insulated pipes to water and provide nutrients to the growing plants. The fertile volcanic soil and mineral rich glacial water abundant on Iceland provide a perfect tomato-growing environment; however, the climate does not. Thus, the greenhouse is the necessary.

Friðheimar grows a variety of tomatoes, a small amount of cucumbers and basil plants. Flying between the rows of tomato plants are imported bees that pollinate the tomatoes, and a species of green fly that feeds on tomato-hungry insects.

Grocery stores in Reykjavik, only about an hour away, order tomatoes from Friðheimar and can have them in stores on the same day the tomatoes were picked and packaged. Don’t fret, all of the unwanted tomatoes meet a fate friendlier than the trash. Friðheimar takes tomatoes not wanted by vendors, but still edible, and turns them into tomato soup served in their restaurant, a selection of jams and sauces, or used in their bar’s varieties of bloody marys to minimize waste.

Friðheimar serves two things: tomato soup and bread (and bloody marys).

Friðheimar’s restaurant serves two things: tomato soup and bread (and bloody marys).

I was fortunate enough to enjoy lunch, at a small table set with a basil plant, in the greenhouse’s restaurant next to hundreds of sprouting tomato plants. This special restaurant had two menu items: tomato soup and homemade bread. The fresh soup puts Campbell’s to shame with its fresh basil clippings and sour cream. Creamy butter and sweet cucumber salsa complemented the bounty of fresh breads. Every loaf of bread was different; some were sweet with cinnamon and some were spiced with caraway, but all delicious. The bar menu served only bloody marys, each with a special twist (for example: the happy mary and the healthy mary) made from red and green tomato juices.

Friðheimar provided an unconventionally exotic tomato experience and my taste buds simply yearn for more, but alas tomato season is months away.