Vital part of Iceland’s prosperity

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Rich with farmland, pure water, and know-how, farming has always been central to Iceland’s prosperity. About 14,000 people work in agriculture and related fields, which amounts to roughly 4% of the population. With a growing interest in local production and organic produce, the industry continues to flourish.

More than 6,000 farms are registered in Iceland, half of which are populated. The majority produces meat, milk, and horticultural produce, whereas the rest focuses chiefly on tourism and forestry.

Iceland is renowned for its extraordinary pure-bred lamb, which spends its summers grazing on berries and Arctic herbs in the unspoiled highlands. There are around 1,800 sheep farms in Iceland, and as a matter of fact, the number of sheep exceeds the population by 130,000.

Icelanders take pride in the fact that farming has, since its settlement 1,100 years ago, been a field of gender equality. Throughout history, we have numerous examples of women who had respect and power, running their farmstead alone or alongside their husbands. Among them is Unn the Deep Minded. The Icelandic Saga Laxdæla features this widowed noblewoman who sailed to Iceland with her family and followers, claimed land, established a farm and ran it with all its responsibilities.

A more recent example of a strong and independent farmer is Heiða Guðný Ásgeirsdóttir, farmer at Ljótarstaðir, South Iceland. She has 500 sheep and shears them singlehandedly every autumn. Heiða was in her mid-20s when she left a modeling career in New York City and took over her family farm. Almost 20 years later, she is just as confident that this where she belongs.

As if operating her farm weren’t enough, Heiða is a politician and an environmental activist. Through relentless campaigning, she succeeded in preventing the building of a large power plant and a dam, saving her precious pastureland. A true Icelandic hero. Click the link to watch Icelandic Lambs short doc about Heiða.

A recent example of a strong and independent farmer is Heiða Guðný Ásgeirsdóttir, farmer at Ljótarstaðir, South Iceland. She has 500 sheep and shears them singlehandedly every autumn. Heiða was in her mid-20s when she left a modeling career in New York and took over her family farm. Almost 20 years later, she is just as confident that this where she belongs.

As if operating her farm weren’t enough, Heiða is a politician and an environmental activist. Through relentless campaigning, she succeeded in preventing the building of a large power plant and a dam, saving her precious pastureland. A true Icelandic hero.

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