Benjamin Vidmar is the founder of Polar Permaculture and he’s trying to grow vegetables in physically and climatically challenging Svalbard, a group of Norwegian islands in the Arctic Ocean.
Vidmar has moved from Florida, USA to Svalbard in 2008. While even Norwegian government has difficulty to make its own people accommodate in this peculiar arctic region despite incentives, Benjamin has decided to stay and make the place more liveable and better for himself and everybody else.
Just two years ago, he founded Polar Permaculture Solutions in Longyearbyen, on the archipelago of Svalbard to grow food and build local resilience in this northern-most community in the world.
Considering the harsh climate, lack of soil and isolated nature of the region, it was a mission impossible. Bureaucracy in the country made it even more difficult.
– It has been an uphill battle to get approvals, permissions, and money. Our project got popular in Europe before it got popular here in town. Things are getting better but we still have a long way to go, says Vidmar to The Nordic Page.
But challenges did not stop Vidmar and his team to experiment what is possible in this Norwegian town. They have managed to grow many types of vegetables and herbs with permaculture principles and techniques. Now they focus on growing products which can handle cold.
They are selling their products to the hotels and restaurants in the town. It is like charity for now but they hope to earn money one day.
Vidmar has ambitious plans. He has his all family with him and is planning to scale up the production area to 2500 m2, if they get permissions on time.
He describes his mission as making the town better for everybody.