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garlic farm south iceland
Photo: A screenshot from RÚV.

Icelandic Farmer Turns from Tourism to Garlic

When tourism work dried up, one farmer in South Iceland found himself an original new project: planting garlic. Hörður Bender and his wife have planted six types of garlic from Sweden, France, and Denmark on their farm Efri-Úlfsstaðir near Hvolsvöllur, South Iceland, the first attempt to produce garlic commercially in Iceland.

“We think we’re the first ones to do this, at least seriously, that is to say in a significant amount. Some people [in Iceland] have been planting garlic in their gardens in the fall, including me and my wife, but that’s generally been just a few bulbs,” Hörður told Landinn reporters. “What we’re planting now is one and a half tonnes.”

Hope for 15-Tonne Harvest Next Year

According to Hörður, Icelanders consume 200 tonnes of garlic per year. If the plants do well, next year’s harvest could amount to 10-15 tonnes. “We have good land here for cultivation that we wanted to make use of. The reason we started now is maybe that I have been working in tourism in recent years and there is absolutely nothing for me to do there so I needed to find something else,” Hörður says.

He believes the garlic grown at Efri-Úlfsstaðir will be higher quality than the imported garlic available in Icelandic grocery stores, both due to the quality of the soil and the slow growth process caused by Iceland’s climate.

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