In a small Icelandic town called Reykholt, a tomato farm named Friðheimar exploits various ecological and technological advances to provide produce in the greenest way possible. I visited this farm a few years ago and was blown away by the conscientious farming that occurs in this facility. The produce looked plentiful and well grown even without the mainstream farming techniques that expends much more energy. I loved the family-owned complex that incorporated alternative farming mechanisms to reduce the farm’s negative impact on the environment. One tool that grabbed my attention was the farm’s living pesticide. The greenhouses contain clusters of a predatory mirid – Macrolophus pygmaeus – to keep the numerous tomato-eating pests that Friðheimar encounters at bay. This intelligent ecological method of pest control keeps the plants pesticide free.
I was especially inspired by how Friðheimar takes advantage of Iceland’s great repository of geothermal energy. Just 200 meters away from their farm there is an underground river than flows with a temperature of 203°F. Friðheimar pumps water from this river to heat their greenhouses. The farm’s use of geothermal energy saves a ton of electricity and keeps Friðheimar as green as possible. The steam from the scalding water is beneficial to the plants. The water carries a large amount of carbon dioxide, which speeds along photosynthesis. In addition to ecological advancements, the owners of Friðheimar employ their fair share of technology. The farm has numerous computers which monitor and service the tomato plants. The computers track and adjust the temperature and humidity of the greenhouse all while determining the amount of water each plant needs. On the outside of the greenhouses, the computers monitor the area’s wind speed, temperature, and sun intensity. Friðheimar has perfected their craft of growing tomatoes with both technological and ecological advancements, and I hope the farm can inspire many more to look towards geothermal energy (there is a lot of potential for geothermal energy use in the United States! Look it up!).