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This American Chef is Growing Vegetables in the Arctic Circles With the Help of Permaculture

Image credits: AFP.

Image credits: AFP.

Chef Benjamin Vidmar left the sun and fine sands of Ocean Drive to drop off his luggage in the northernmost city of the world: Longyearbyen.

Benjamin Vidmar is an American chef living in Norway, in Longyearbyen. In this city, the last inhabited community before the North Pole, a great challenge awaited him — that of growing fresh produce. Thanks to permaculture, he found the solution with the creation of a polar farm. In Longyearbyen, the northernmost city of the world, an American chef has decided to grow his own fruits and vegetables where no one else has ever dared to. His project, Polar Permaculture, aims to prove that accessing quality food is possible, even under extreme conditions. Among the Sustainable Development Goals stated by the United Nations, food security and access to quality food are crucial issues. The yield of agricultural land is declining due to monoculture. Climate change and the succession of difficult climatic episodes pose a risk to the future of our plates. From the Saharan desert beyond the latitudes of the polar circle, permaculture is showing us that it is now possible to grow fruit and vegetables all year round under harsh conditions.

Originally from Florida, Chef Benjamin Vidmar left the sun and fine sands of Ocean Drive to drop off his luggage in the northernmost city of the world: Longyearbyen. Located on the island of Sptisbergen of the Svalbard archipelago, the city imports 100% of the food it consumes. Indeed, the territory does not offer the possibility to cultivate anything. Also, the harshness of the climate inflates the energy bill of the island. If the Svalbard were a country, it would beat the top of the list of CO2 emissions per capita, more than Qatar. Benjamin Vidmar wanted to develop a new model of resilience. He developed a true autonomous and sustainable polar circle farm. A geodesic sphere capable of capturing the sun’s heat and transmitting it to the crops. This way, they supply the local population with fresh fruit and vegetables. A true gesture towards health and the planet.

Energy Observer is the name of the first hydrogen-powered, zero-emission vessel to be self-sufficient in energy, advocating and serving as a laboratory for ecological transition. Criss-crossing the oceans without air or noise pollution for marine ecosystems, Energy Observer sets out to meet women and men who devote their energy to creating sustainable solutions for a more harmonious world.

first published:March 29, 2021, 09:24 IST