A Farm Holiday in Eastern Iceland with a Farmer Who Planted One Million Birch Trees
For travelers looking for more than standard tourist hot spots surrounding the city of Reykjavik, the forested region of Eastern Iceland is waiting for exploration.
The main town in this region is lively Egilsstadir. About ten miles south is a farm called Vallanes. The organic farmer Eymundur Magnússon and his wife, who founded Slow Food Iceland, have built a paradise of rolling barley fields and a forest of one million birch trees that the family planted themselves.
Eymundur is a pioneer in the nation and nearly single handedly reintroduced his country to the lost tradition of growing and eating barley. He founded his food company Modir Jord in the hope that his fellow countrymen will learn to eat the healthy, robust ingredients of Iceland, instead of relying on expensive imports.
The farmer and his wife welcome visitors to the farm with gracious hospitality and are always keen to show newcomers around. They are building a small hotel at the farm to expand their agritourism business and a visit will most likely include lunch comprised of ingredients from the farm in "The Monster House," a canteen that feeds the dozens of volunteers from around the world who make a pilgrimage to work on the farm.
Vallanes is a true Icelandic paradise and while it might not be a typical tourist destination, it offers a unique experience with people who have devoted their lives to good, healthy living. The farm is infused with their spirit and is a must see in Eastern Iceland.