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Iceland’s landscape is many things; it’s dramatic, unique and silently beautiful. It’s also a harsh place for crops to grow. That’s what makes the Friðheimar farm so special. This spot on the Golden Circle grows plump, juicy tomatoes year-round in the near-Arctic conditions. Vast greenhouses are home to twisting tomato vines and the on-site restaurant serves warm bowls of tomato soup and farm-fresh salads. Friðheimar is the ideal lunch stop for those hitting the sights of Iceland’s most popular sightseeing route, fuelling your trip along the Golden Circle
Parcticular of the restaurant at Friðheimar greenhouse, Iceland

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      The Greenhouses and Stables of Friðheimar Farm

      Farming at Friðheimar in near-Arctic conditions


      Iceland has a long and difficult history with farming. The barren, wind-beaten landscape doesn’t lend itself to vast fields of crops and the lack of sunshine means traditionally Mediterranean vegetables were out of the question for a long time.


      In the middle ages, the population relied heavily on wheat and grain to stave off hunger, baking bread and hunting and gathering for meat, herbs and vegetables. As a result, the Icelandic diet is traditionally based on lamb flavoured with Arctic herbs, chard, rye bread and a lot of fish and seafood.


      So, you might be surprised to hear that one of the most popular lunch stops along the Golden Circle sightseeing route is a restaurant that specialises in juicy tomatoes. The Friðheimar greenhouse farm is home to vast glasshouses where curling green vines produce plump tomatoes of all kinds, year-round.


      The natural, geothermal water that simmers beneath the farm heats the greenhouses in an eco-friendly way and the glass protects the vegetables (ok, technically tomatoes are a fruit, we know) from the harsh weather outside. Tomatoes are 90% water, so they need a lot of irrigation to grow. Luckily, Iceland’s glacial landscape isn’t short of natural water supplies and the cold water from the same geothermal spring that heats the greenhouses provides the hydration for the tomato plants.


      Friðheimar controls pests by introducing small, green flies that feast on the insects that afflict tomato crops, without using chemicals or sprays. So the whole operation is natural and environmentally friendly.


      It can be a long time before tomato plants bear fruit, so the Friðheimar farm uses a system of interplanting to ensure they are harvesting tomatoes all year. Just as the older plants are producing the last of their harvest, newer plants’ produce is just coming to fruition.


      Things to experience at Friðheimar

      Arriving at Friðheimar, you should definitely take a moment to learn about the innovative farming techniques used to grow hot-weather fruit this far north. A visit to Friðheimar usually begins with a tour of the greenhouses and nurseries where you can see how everything works before settling down for a meal.


      Of course, no trip to Friðheimar is complete without sampling the results of farmers Knútur and Helena’s huge efforts. A buffet of salads with juicy tomatoes, gooey mozzarella and the farm’s fresh cucumber, bowls of piping-hot tomato soup and handmade ravioli is on offer. There is also home-baked bread (gluten-free options are available) and stone-baked tortillas, and sea-fresh mussels in a tomato-based sauce. It’s a veritable haven for vegetarians and there are some vegan options too. The restaurant is an impressive spot, housed within the glasshouses themselves. Sunlight streams in through the glass ceiling during the day and you can breathe in the scent of ripening tomato plants as you dine.


      Once you’ve had your fill of tomato soups and salads, you can pay a visit to the farm’s herd of Icelandic horses. This small, sturdy breed is famed for its friendly demeanour and unique gait. Friðheimar farm has been breeding Icelandic horses for decades and you can visit the stables year-round. Those that visit Friðheimar in the summer months (between 1st May and 30th September) can be treated to a horse show (must be booked in advance) where the different gaits of this unique horse are shown off and you can meet the Icelandic horses and their trainers at the end.


      Sights and Attractions Around Friðheimar


      In the small village of Reykholt, Friðheimar is situated on the Golden Circle – the popular sightseeing route that begins and ends in Reykjavík. You’ll find Friðheimar a 45-minute drive from Þingvellir National Park which is often the first stop on the Golden Circle where the Eurasian and North American continental plates meet. It’s then a half-hour drive onwards from Friðheimar to the Geysir area of geothermal activity where the Strokkur geyser erupts like clockwork every ten minutes.


      Just beyond Geysir is the third and final stop of the Golden Circle – the thundering horseshoe falls of Gullfoss. Between the first two stops on the Golden Circle, Friðheimar is the perfect place to take a break for lunch. Several Golden Circle guided tours include a stop at the tomato farm for lunch and a tour.


      A very short drive away (10 minutes), you’ll find the Secret Lagoon which is considered Iceland’s oldest outdoor swimming pool. The Secret Lagoon is heated naturally by a geothermal spring and offers a traditional Icelandic bathing experience outdoors. It is the perfect tonic after a long lunch at Friðheimar. After a hearty lunch of soup, bread and salad and a long soak in the bath-warm water of the Secret Lagoon, you’re guaranteed a deep sleep at night. There are a few options for overnight accommodation in Reykholt village, but most people will visit Friðheimar on a Golden Circle day trip and return to Reykjavík at the end of the day.

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