What a Huge Greenhouse Looks Like When You Just Leave it Sitting There



I'm never very inspired in February (who is! Well, maybe people in the southern hemisphere, where it's still summer...) but I did go on a really nice day trip with Óðinn recently "east of the mountain" or austur fyrir fjall. I'll wager to say that all of you who have been here have taken the same drive, as it's the southern part of the Golden Circle loop that takes you out to Gullfoss and Geysir, as well as the only road getting you to the south and east coasts.


After just a short drive out of town we passed through Hveragerði (Hot Spring 'Paddock') and went farther into the valley to Reykjadalur (Smoke Valley.) It totally lives up to its name, with fumaroles, hot pits filled with bubbly grey mud, and steaming rivers creating permanent mist columns rising from the earth. People came to this area to tap into the free geothermal heat, and by 1930 the first greenhouse was built.

I remember that a trip to Hveragerði for ice cream was a mandatory thing back when our family came to visit, as in pretty much every close relative with a car proposed day trip to Eden, a hothouse nursery with a gift shop and restaurant attached. They were famous for having a banana tree and of course soft serve ice cream with chocolate dip for ennui-laden visitors from the Capital region. Unfortunately, Eden burned down in 2011, after a bankruptcy (that never happens here, am I right?)

Though the hothouse flower market is going strong here in Iceland, and we have some excellent locally grown greens and vegetables, greenhouses do not use free electricity. It's costly to keep a greenhouse running 24/7, and agriculture is not subsidized by the government the way the aluminum industry is. The result is sights like the one above, abandoned dreams that litter the geothermally-active landscape. 

Visitors, past and future, and lovers of our country, please continue to put pressure on our government to step into the Now and become ecologically sustainable and renewable. We have all the resources, and none of the excuses that make this more difficult in other regions. You can help by choosing locally-grown foods and asking your hotels and guesthouses for info on eco-friendly travel around the island (this website looks interesting,  and here are some great resources to look over.)

We are having a passionate love affair with our tourism economy right now, but to truly make it last, and to make your trip here have impact, put pressure with your pocketbook in all the right places. That way, maybe we can actually live up to our reputation as one of the most eco-friendly countries in the world.*

*Note that we are at #14 for 2014 on this EPI list, down from #1 in 2011... 

2 comments:

allesistgut said...

It's such a pity that the greenhouse went to rack. Yes, you have all the ressources in your beautiful country. So it's really opaque that the government treat agriculture in that shabby way. Thanks for the links. I'll check them. Could be helpful for my next trip to Iceland.
Greetings from Germany.

Grandpa and Grandma B said...

Eden was closed when we arrived in 2008 but reopened before we left in 2010. Sorry to hear it burned down. Never understood with the abundance of geothermal and hydroelectricity why there isn't help for the greenhouses to provide fruits and vegetables. There appear to be a few that have figured it out without government help as we saw more than just flower greenhouses. Flower grow beautiful in Iceland. We had the most gorgeous pansies outside our front door.