Iceland: Sólheimar, an unexpected ecovillage

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Best rhubarb cake ever. Delicious chocolate cookies. The bakery of Sólheimar ecovillage (House of the Sun) is the reason to make this detour in the south of Iceland. I’m usually not very fond of anything rhubarb, but this was sheer heaven.

As the weather was really bad, we didn’t do anything else there. We just went to the supermarket Vala Market and Art Boutique where we bought the cake and cookies. And a rabbit candle.

But there are of lot of interesting things to do: eg. Sesseljuhús is an educational and exhibition center focused on environmental issues and sustainable development .

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But Sólheimar is really interesting, I found out later. It was founded in 1930 (!) by Sesselja Hreindís Sigmundsdóttir as a self-sustainable organic farm and a children’s home (influenced by Rudolph Steiner’s anthroposophy).

She was the first one to go and study in Europe how to handle people with special needs. At Sólheimar, she did pioneering work with children having mental and physical disabilities. The kids thrived in the green and creative environment.

Inclusion

Sesselja put the idea of inclusion into practice: children with and without disabilities were living together at Sólheimar. She also believed in diets with a lot of vegetables which was thought to be unhealthy back than.

If you want to know more about Sesselja’s life, her work  at Sólheimar and her ideas, you can read about them on the Sólheimar website.

Flowers and chickens

Sesselja did study a lot more than only anthroposophy: gardening, flower cultivation and how to handle poultry. She combined all her passions at Sólheimar.

She leased the land from the Childcare Committee of the Church of Iceland. At first they lived in tents with geothermal heat (yes, they were environmentalists), but after a few months the basement of Sólheimahús was ready to live in.

You can read here how the rest of the village came about.

KonijnEcovillage

Of course back in thirties, ecovillages weren’t a hipster thing, but in 1997 Sólheimar became the first sustainable village in Iceland, a title awarded by The Global Ecovillage Network.

At the moment, there are more than 100 residents in Solheimar: disabled people, long-time unemployed people, prisoners and long-term patients … Some of them have lived there for most of their lives.

There are a few businesses and workshops there now: an organic vegetable nursery and forestry,  different art and craft workshops (candle-making (I couldn’t resist this rabbit), weaving, organic soap-making, art, ceramics and woodwork), a bakery, café, shop/gallery, guesthouses …

Do you need more inspiration for your trip to Iceland? Check all my posts!

 

One Reply to “Iceland: Sólheimar, an unexpected ecovillage”

  1. I am so glad I’ve come across this. We are planning on a trip to Iceland ourselves and have been looking for help and advice from other bloggers. But as a teacher I can’t wait to visit here and learn about sustainable development.

    We would appreciate if you could leave any advice on our post so that we have as much to blog about as possible when we go. Our post about Iceland is https://thiscouplewent.wordpress.com/2016/02/07/iceland-the-planning-begins/ . If we manage to do something you suggest then we will post a link on our blog to yours. It would be nice if bloggers could help each other out!

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