the past two weeks there was a Spanish guy staying with us here in Sólheimar. He’s working for an ecopark in Spain and is traveling around now to visit other ecovillages all over the world! On Tuesday he wanted to visit some of the organic farms in the neighborhood, and he offered some of us volunteers to come with him =) Yay!
First we went to Akur, which is a 15min drive from Sólheimar. They have three greenhouses and grow their vegetables in an organic way, using horticulture and biodynamic gardening. They don’t use pesticides or anything and follow the biodynamic calendar (the planting and harvesting is connected to the position of the moon and the time of the day). When we went there they had tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet pepper and chilli pepper, and they were experimenting with some exotic things like mango. It may sound strange to grow these things in Iceland. But the thing is, they have so much geothermal heat in some places that they can heat their greenhouses up to excotic temperatures. Akur lies right on top of a very hot area, and the whole village is made up of greenhouses. The farmer was telling that the water they use for heating is 90°C, and when it leaves the greenhouses it’s still 40°C!
They sell their products in their own shop in Reykjavik, and besides vegetables they also have marmalade, dried fruits and honey.
Akur’s organic greenhouses
After that we went to Skalftholt. This is a farm where they have both animals and greenhouses. And they have disabled people living and working there as well. It’s kinda like a mini Solheimar (but better, cause they have animals!:) )In the afternoon we helped on the farm, sorting out potatoes. And the farmer showed us around.
They had three greenhouses, some 20 chickens, sheep, and 14 milking cows. They use the wool of the sheep themselves, they have a workshop where they clean it and make knitting wool out of it (more on that in a next post). And they also make cheese out of the cows’ milk.
she’s really enjoying that straw of hay!
It’s the first time I saw an organic dairy farm, and I must admit it’s quite different from the farm I worked at. Their cows are not tied up at all, they can walk around and go out whenever they like, even in winter. The calves are kept together with the cows, and they don’t get any special food to increase their milk production. And they even get brushed! I would want to be a cow on that farm, really!
But I think in a financial way it’s not sustainable to farm like that. The farmer said that 75% of their budget came from funding because they work with disabled people. So making profit isn’t the most important thing here.
This cow is getting a good scrub. Love it how that woman is wearing a helmet!
The cows, just chillin’
Seeing the disabled people working with the animals makes me wonder even more why we don’t have animals in Sólheimar. Apparently they used to have cows here some time ago, but then it all stopped And we volunteers really want to have some animals here – goats, sheep, horses… Or even just some more cats and dogs would be nice!