Permaculture in Iceland

Mörður G.Ott
Thursday, 10th April 2014

The Töfrastaðir project in Iceland shows permaculture in a cold climate. Their aim is to reduce their carbon footprint, supply local communities with fresh food and provide design courses, workshops, art projects, volunteer positions and much more.

Last summer, Mörður G.Ott was on a business trip to Oslo, when he heard there was a permaculture festival in Hurda. Mörður arrived dressed for business, but when he left he shed the business life and hoped to keep living the freedom of self that he had experienced in Hurdal.

Two weeks after coming to Iceland, Mörður had obtained a farm with Haukur Guðnason and the Töfrastaðir project was born shortly after.

In the beginning there was the farm at Torfastaðir 1 but it soon became something more. Work groups were organized and other farms began to show interest in taking up the Töfrastaðir name. Töfrastaðir (Icelandic for magical place) is about making a better life, advancing agriculture, creating abundance and building a community that cares. 


The project began last August at a farm in the south of Iceland named Torfastaðir 1. There were a few city slickers that got fed up with a society that didn‘t care for its own health or sanity. The aim of the project is to become a centre for permaculture in Iceland, a cold climate permaculture school with a full curriculum of courses.

At Töfrastaðir they work on improving quality of life by taking responsibility for themselves. They look at their footprint on the world and develop ways to give back, rather than taking from their surroundings. When plants are grown, they grow enough to give away and use for new purposes. At Töfrastaðir they are always looking for new, innovative ways to use materials, to change their limitations and open a whole new world of possibilities.

Töfrastaðir will host permaculture design courses every year, launching the first PDC in collaboration with Jan Bang next June. Their main project at Töfrastaðir right now is making organic chicken egg production possible and profitable in Iceland. Their first solution is to produce chicken feed from insects, seaweed and plants that are grown on location. They will then move into making fish feed and hopefully won‘t stop making great food for animals until they are all full and happy.

Töfrastaðir will host a wide variety of artists, art projects and workshops, and welcome all who want to participate.

If people want to stay for up to three days, they can pay for that with project participation and good conversation. We are open to all and welcome diversity.

Most important to us is to be a home for those who need a place to belong and feel loved. The best compliment we've had so far, is: "Being at Töfrastadir feels like being with the family I didn‘t know I had."

Permaculture in Iceland

There is alot going on in the permaculture underground in Iceland. A few aquaponics system are being set up on a commercial scale, farms are being bought specifially for permaculture use and a 1,700 hectare of land was bought to sell back cheap for permaculture use. There are over 320 people in the Facebook permaculture group in Iceland and people are diligent in sharing knowledge. Some see us as weeds popping up all over but in permaculture there are no weeds, there are only plants with different purpose.

We are seeds sprouting fast. What kind of plants we will be is anyone's guess but that doesn't really matter, what matters is that we are trying to be companion plants that help each other. At Hurdal, Mörður promised to come back to the next Nordic permaculture festival with at least five Icelanders and that Iceland might host the festival one day. He has new goals now, organizing a group trip to Denmark and looking to host the festival in Iceland 2017.

To find out more about Töfrastaðir visit

Further resources

Permaculture in action at Bahrija in Malta

Tropical permaculture documentary

How to build a cold frame

For ideas on growing in cooler climates, read Sepp Holzer's Permaculture for a special price of £14.20 (also available as an eBook).

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