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"Growing food near the north pole"
 
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Benjamin L. Vidmar

Eco-chef/Foodie

 
 

My dream is to make Longyearbyen, Svalbard more sustainable, and to produce locally grown food here near the north pole!

We have been working hard to set up a circular economy to better use the resources,and to connect people back to their food.

How we are building a circular economy here in Svalbard.

Video by francisco lillo salazar

 

Background

     Polar Permaculture Solutions, AS is a company using Permaculture principles and ecological design to create a circular economy here in Longyearbyen, Svalbard. It was founded in 2015 by Benjamin Vidmar when he was head chef at Svalbar Pub. All of the food in town is flown or shipped in presently, but there is a history of growing food on this island. Our task is to use modern systems, and produce locally grown food. Benjamin started with hydroponic systems, but was not happy with shipping fertilizers up to the island when there is so  much food waste available to compost and produce biogas. Food waste here in town is dumped into the sea, and the challenge is to grow locally grown food making use of available resources on the island.

     Polar Permaculture researched what others were doing around the Arctic, and decided to go with composting worms. Red worms are very good at producing a natural fertlizer from food waste and permission was sought to bring some up to the island. It took about one and a half years to get permission to use worms, but it was worth the wait. Now the company is growing microgreens for the hotels and restaurants on the island and composting the unused produce with red worms. This then creates worm castings which is a natural fertilizer that can be used to grown more food.

     In addition to composting with worms, Polar Permaculture has started hatching quails from eggs and is now delivering fresh locally produced quail eggs to the restaurants and hotels. The next step will be to get a bio-digestor setup and to produce biogas with it. The worms are mostly vegetarian, but with a digestor, we can feed all of the manure from our birds as well as food waste that would normally be dumped into the sea. This will allow us to produce heat for our dome, and also to produce electricity that can run generators to power our lights. A natural fertilizer also comes out of the digestor and this will be used to grow more food here in town.

 

 
 

Experience

Career Summary

Accomplished culinary professional with over 18 years of experience working in the hospitality industry across Scandinavia, Asia, and the U.S. Passionate about using sustainable, farm-to-table practices to source high-quality, local ingredients that provide a memorable dining experience. Background includes working in diverse culinary settings ranging from Arctic cruise ships to elite private dining clubs. Strong leader with a proven ability to minimize food/labor costs, and consistently meet profitability targets.

§  Culinary Management

§  International Cuisine

§  Safety & Sanitation

§  Employee Retention

§  Kitchen Operations

§  Locally Sourced Foods

§  Vendor Management

§  Sustainable Sourcing

§  Farm-to-Table

§  Menu Development

§  Food & Labor Cost Control

§  Collaboration & Teamwork

§  Budget Development

§  Employee Training

§  Leadership & Team Building

 

POlar permaculture solutions, as
2015 – Present

Svalbard adventure group, as
2012 – 2015

 

Radisson Polar hotel
2008 – 2015

cruise ship experience
2005 – 2009

 
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Harvest time on Svalbard

2017 was our first full season of Arctic farming outdoors.

 

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A unique wonder of the north!

If you are interested in sustainability then make sure you book this tour - you won't be disappointed!

This experience was one of the most personal and unique experiences we've had during our stay in Longyearbyen. The really special part of the 3-hour tour was learning about the owner's journey and experience with permaculture in the Arctic - and really getting a rich understanding of the town's history - and its sustainable future.

The farm's owner, Ben, shared his story and his vision for a sustainable future in the north. The work that Ben and the project team are doing is fascinating and critical. It was great to see how this sort of farm can work in polar regions, and how it can help other remote communities around the world.

Take the tour and have your mind blown!

 

/  Kylie T. /

 

Our first batch of quails were born August 2017

Video by francisco lillo salazar

 

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Inspiring!

Chef Benjamin, owner of Polar Permaculture is passionate about sustainability. All of Longyearbyen's waste is sent to Sweden to be incinerated, at huge environmental and economic cost. Before Ben came along, that included all of Longyearbyen's food waste. Through persistence, hard work and his infectious enthusiasm, Ben has won the backing of the entire town and now composts all of the food waste from the town's restaurants and turns it back into food, the only food that's grown on the island today.
Longyearbyen used to be mostly self-sufficient in food and Ben's vision is that it will be again. He has achieved a lot in a few short years already and I am sure in a few more years he will be well on the way to achieving this goal.
The tour of the greenhouse and microgreens operation was highly interesting, informative and inspiring - recommended!

 

/ David H  /