Iceland Mag

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Iceland Mag

Food & Drink

From the farm to your plate: Turning the old into something new

By Sara McMahon

  • Arnheiður Hjörleifsdóttir and Guðmundur Sigurjónsson run the Bjarteyjarsandur farm in Hvalfjörður fjord. Photo/Arnheiður Hjörleifsdóttir

  • The farmer and her organic pigs. 

The Beint frá býli organization supports direct farmer-to-consumer marketing, which has become increasingly popular in Iceland over the past few years. Consumers view direct marketing as a way of gaining access to fresh, high- quality foods while minimizing their ecological footprint, and farmers see it as an alternative market outlet to increase their income.

 

Arnheiður Hjörleifsdóttir lives on the farm Bjarteyjarsandur in Hvalfjörður fjord with her husband, Guðmundur Sigurjónsson, and their daughter. The family raises livestock on the farm, offers accommodation, and runs a shop where they sell their products directly to consumers. Their products, which include lamb meat, organic pork, jam, smoked lamb, and bjúga, a traditional smoked sausage, as well as jam, are only available at the little farm shop. However, the couple often partake in local Farmers Markets in neighbouring towns. Guests visiting the farm are also invited to take part in various events, such as the annual sheep round-up in autumn.

 Why did you decide to go into agritourism?

“There was an increase in demand for our products, and that’s why we decided to expand into agritourism. This was in 2007/08, and the following years turned out to be quite problematic for anyone needing to take out loans for construction. Despite that, we kept on going but at a much slower pace, and our new facilities were finally ready in 2011,” Arnheiður explains.

“It is a lot of work, but it goes well with traditional farm work. There are busy periods in both businesses, sometimes they occur at the same time, like during spring."

Does the tourism part go well with traditional farm chores?

“It is a lot of work, but it goes well with traditional farm work. There are busy periods in both businesses, sometimes they occur at the same time, like during spring. However, at other times, like the weeks before Christmas, there is little to do around the farm but lots to do in the food business.”

What are your most popular food products?

“The pork and smoked meat is very popular for Christmas because that’s what Icelanders traditionally have for their Christmas dinner. The bjúga is also very popular among Icelanders.
“We are now working on developing a new product to add to our line. We have been experimenting with twice- smoked meat of mutton with wild blueberry glaze. The results have been promising.”

Where does Iceland stand in farmer-to-consumer marketing, in your opinion? Is there anything that could be done better?

“Personally I feel we need clearer regulations in this industry. And the two institutes responsible for supervision of home production need to standardize their regulations as well. That way we can ensure the best for both producers and the consumer.”

Bjarteyjarsandur farm is open daily during the summer months. Visitors are advised to book a day in advance during the off-season. 

 

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