Friðheimar Greenhouse: Innovating Sustainable Agriculture in Iceland

  • by Irena
  • Golden Circle Iceland
  • 23 Aug 2023

Tomatoes growing at Friðheimar
Tomatoes growing at Friðheimar

The History of Friðheimar

In our exploration of Friðheimar’s history, we find a rich tapestry woven from strands of horticulture, renewable energy, and unwavering entrepreneurial spirit. Our journey begins in 1946, when the farm initiated its venture into horticulture using the natural hot water abundant in Iceland. This sustainable resource became a cornerstone of Friðheimar’s operations, allowing the company to harness geothermal energy effectively.

Staff member picking tomatoes at Friðheimar
Staff member cutting tomato plants at the greenhouse

By 1995, Knútur and Helena had become the stewards of Friðheimar with a vision to integrate their distinct expertise: horses and plant cultivation. The acquisition was strategic; the farm already featured two greenhouses, indicating a pre-existing alignment with their ambitions.

Notably, the farm diverges from conventional agriculture through the innovative use of a climate-control system complemented by artificial lights. This state-of-the-art set-up allows to rear various vegetables, especially tomatoes, throughout the year – irrespective of the harsh Icelandic weather.

  • Key Developments at Friðheimar:
    • 1946: begins horticulture with geothermal water
    • 1995: new ownership and integration of horses and horticulture
    • Technological Advancement: implementation of climate-control and artificial lighting systems

Farm’s foray into greenhouse cultivation stands as a benchmark in Iceland’s agricultural domain, especially in overcoming the challenges posed by Iceland’s unique climate. Icelandic farmers embraced the elements, adapting their practices to yield a bounty where few would expect crops to thrive. Friðheimar takes pride in their ability to merge tradition with innovation, delivering a sustainable and educational experience to all who visit the farm.

People watching bees at Friðheimar greenhouse
People watching bees at Friðheimar greenhouse

Exploring the Friðheimar Greenhouses

As we venture into the world of innovative agriculture, our exploration of the Friðheimar greenhouses reveals a seamless melding of horticulture and technology. Each subsection will delve into the crucial aspects that make Friðheimar a leading example of sustainable farming.

Tomato Cultivation

At Friðheimar, tomato cultivation is an art meticulously honed. Thousands of tomato plants thrive in the nourishing environment of the greenhouses, supported by delicate balance of temperature and humidity. Visitors on greenhouse visits witness a vibrant display of reds hanging enticingly from the vines, ready to be savored.

  • Bumblebees for pollination: Essential for natural fertilization.
  • Artificial Lights: Supplement Icelandic sunlight for year-round growth.
Bees at Friðheimar
Bees at Friðheimar greenhouse

Greenhouse Horticulture

Horticulture within the greenhouses of Friðheimar is a testament to ecological harmony. Each plant is carefully monitored, ensuring optimal growth conditions. Through the strategic use of artificial lights, each plant receives the perfect amount of simulated daylight, directly influencing the quality and flavor of tomatoes.

  • Temperature control: A key factor in managing plant health.
  • Plant nourishment: A proprietary blend of nutrients fed directly to the roots.

Innovative Use of Geothermal Energy

Embracing Iceland’s natural resources, Friðheimar’s use of geothermal energy is nothing short of revolutionary. This sustainable energy source heats the greenhouses and provides a constant flow of warm water, crucial for maintaining a stable growing ambiance year-round.

  • Geothermal Energy: Heart of the heating system.
  • Sustainability: Reducing carbon footprint through natural heating solutions.

The Friðheimar Restaurant Experience

Friðheimar offers a dining experience that is both distinctive and unforgettable. It centers around their passion for tomatoes, reflected in each dish and drink served.

Friðheimar greenhouse and restaurant

Signature Tomato Soup

Friðheimar’s Tomato Soup stands as the cornerstone of their culinary journey. It is served with fresh-baked bread, providing a comforting and hearty meal that showcases the taste of fresh, homegrown tomatoes. Guests can enhance their soup with basil, sour cream, or cucumber salsa to suit their palate.

Unique Food Offerings

The menu expands beyond the classic soup with inventive takes like tomato ice cream and tomato beer. The tomato schnapps, with its bold flavor, is a memorable choice for the adventurous. Each item on the menu constitutes a part of the Friðheimar food experience, ensuring that there is something unique for every guest wanting to try something new.

Friðheimar restaurant
Friðheimar restaurant

Dining Amongst the Tomato Plants

Lunch at Friðheimar is not just about the food – it’s about the atmosphere. Guests are invited to dine amongst the tomato plants in the greenhouse, surrounded by greenery and the gentle hum of bees. This unique environment allows you to witness firsthand how your food is grown, giving a new meaning to the farm-to-table concept. A tomato drink, served in this lush setting, encapsulates the essence of what the farm offers: a truly fresh and authentic food experience.

Interactive Activities at Friðheimar

Friðheimar offers a variety of interactive activities that engage visitors with their unique agricultural methods and Icelandic horse breeding. Whether it’s a close-up look at sustainable farming or a captivating horse show, there’s something for everyone.

Guided Tours and Informative Talks

Daily guided tours of greenhouse facilities are organized to show you how Icelandic ingenuity meets nature to produce beautiful, succulent tomatoes all year round. Visitors get the chance to learn about the advanced geothermal energy usage and climate control systems during these tours. Moreover, the informative talks provide valuable insights into Friðheimar’s farming techniques and the challenges they overcome in Iceland’s climate.

Friðheimar guided tour
Friðheimar guided tour

Equestrian Displays

Icelandic horses are not only an integral part of farming heritage but are also stars in their own right. The horse shows demonstrate the unique gait known as the tölt, which is specific to the Icelandic horse. With experienced riders leading the displays, visitors have the opportunity to capture fantastic photographs and appreciate the grace of these magnificent animals.

Friðheimar horse show
Friðheimar horse show

Group Visits and Bookings

Groups of various sizes are welcome and ensure a tailored experience that can include both the greenhouse visit and the horse show. For larger groups, advanced bookings are essential to ensure that the most engaging experience is provided. Whether for educational purposes or simply for recreational enjoyment, the team is dedicated to making your visit memorable.

Shopping at Friðheimar

Friðheimar offers not just a unique dining experience but also the chance to take a piece of this experience home with them, from the range of gourmet souvenirs.

The Little Tomato Shop

In the heart of Friðheimar’s greenhouses, visitors can explore The Little Tomato Shop, a place where the love for tomatoes translates into an array of specialty products. The selection includes the cherished Tomato Jam and Cucumber Salsa, crafted from the greenhouse-grown produce.

From Greenhouse to Souvenir

Some of the best souvenirs are those you can savor, which is why the farm offers a range of Food Souvenirs that embody the essence of Friðheimar. Each jar of Jam or sauce they sell at the shop carries the fresh, wholesome flavors of the greenhouse straight to your pantry.

Friðheimar shop
Friðheimar shop

Icelandic Horse Breeding Program

Icelandic Horse Breeding Program at Friðheimar focuses on cultivating the unique qualities of the Icelandic horse, a breed renowned for its resilience and charm. They prioritize good disposition and performance in breeding practices, while also preserving the rich history of these magnificent steeds.

History and Heritage of the Icelandic Horse

The Icelandic horse is a treasured symbol of Icelandic nation’s heritage. For over a millennium, these horses have adapted to Iceland’s challenging landscapes, shaping a breed known for its distinctiveness and versatility. Friðheimar farm is proud to be stewards of this history, with their program having begun in 1995. Their breeding practices aim to honor the lineage of these storied animals.

Breeding for Good Disposition and Performance

At the heart of Friðheimar’s breeding philosophy is the development of horses with a good disposition and excellent performance abilities. The meticulous selection process ensures that each horse they breed has a gentle temperament, making them willing partners both in work and companionship. The offspring from farm’s stables are trained to exhibit the fabled five gaits of the Icelandic breed, including the smooth-running tölt and the exciting skeið or flying pace. 

Meeting Icelandic horse at Friðheimar

The Golden Circle and Nearby Attractions

We often find that exploring Friðheimar offers a delightful complement to the classic Golden Circle Tour. Our journey incorporates both the region’s renowned natural beauties and sustainable agricultural practices.

Friðheimar farm as a part of the Golden Circle Tour

Friðheimar farm is intricately woven into the Golden Circle experience. As we traverse this iconic route, we seamlessly integrate a visit to the tomato farm, allowing guests to appreciate local sustainable agriculture along with the natural wonders. The farm is not only a place for lunch but also a chance to experience agriculture in harmony with nature. A tour includes the Geysir geothermal area, where the Strokkur geyser erupts, and the powerful Gullfoss Waterfall – both of which underscore the dynamic forces at work in Iceland’s landscape.

Panoramic view on Gullfoss waterfall
Panoramic view on Gullfoss waterfall

Visiting Adjacent Natural Wonders

Adjacent to the Golden Circle are captivating attractions such as the Kerid Crater, a volcanic crater lake that is a visual spectacle with its vivid aquamarine water. Just a short distance away, the warmth of the Secret Lagoon at Fludir beckons, offering a natural geothermal bath experience. Nearby Laugarvatn is another geothermal area, famous for its lake, and makes a perfect spot for relaxation after a day’s exploration. When planning our Golden Circle Tour, these sites are considered to showcase the diversity of Iceland’s geological and geothermal beauty.

Kerid crater
Kerið volcano crater lake
About the author
In 2010, Irena moved to Iceland, instantly enchanted by its breathtaking beauty. Her deep love for Icelandic culture and the natural surroundings fills her with excitement as she endeavors to convey these wonders to others through her photography and writing.

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