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In the last decade, more and more people have come to Svalbard motivated by the beauty of the place but also by the challenge of what it means to survive both as a community as well as an individual in such a unique location. Access to fresh ingredients has always been a challenge for locals. While the increase in tourism has meant an increase in supplies in the mainland by plane, boats bring in a large proportion of provisions. The boat journey can take a week, and makes it difficult to transport many products.
In 2015, eco-chef Benjamin Vidmar found a way to tackle this problem by starting Polar Permaculture. Together with Hege Giske, they produce farm fresh, nutritious vegetables, micro greens and sprouts for the local community of Longyearbyen, with a sustainable, circular system based on organic and biological waste recycling.
Hege takes us to the specialized greenhouse constructed for the job. Considering the 110 days of darkness per year, veggies need to be kept indoors under special lamps, at consistent temperature and humidity levels, and watered daily.
“OUR GOAL IS TO GIVE THE CITIZENS OF SVALBARD FRESH FOOD INSTEAD OF EVERYTHING TAKEN UP HERE BY PLANE OR BOAT”
In the summer, however, plants can benefit from 4 months of light day and night, but temperatures are still pretty low and for this reason need to be kept under control for growing greens and sprouts.
Throughout the year, Ben and Hege also offer cooking classes and tours with their snow-grown ingredients.
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VOICES FROM AN ICY COAST
The Parajumpers Stories speak of lives outside the ordinary, lived in the remotest corners of earth where powerful forces of nature make everyday survival a challenge.
In the last decade, more and more people have come to Svalbard motivated by the beauty of the place but also by the challenge of what it means to survive both as a community as well as an individual in such a unique location.