“We got cocoa plant seeds three years ago and the largest plant is now 1.5 meters tall. We hope to get cocoa from it soon,” says Guðríður Helgadóttir, administrator at Reykir in Ölfus. The tropical greenhouse now boasts five thriving cocoa plants.
The greenhouse in South Iceland already has good experience of growing coffee beans—as there are already five very productive coffee plants there. “There will be a good coffee harvest this year; one plant produces yellow beans and another red; it is very good coffee. Last year we invited people to buy coffee from us, that way they could buy a cup of coffee and take some coffee home. Of course it was more expensive than coffee in the shops, as there isn’t a lot of it available, but it went very well. I am sure that with the growing tourist trade somebody could grow Icelandic coffee and cocoa for sale.”
Vísir reports that the greenhouse is still best-known for its famous Icelandic bananas. “Here in Hveragerði is the biggest banana plantation in Europe,” Guðríður explains. “There is nobody as crazy as us Icelanders to grow bananas in the Arctic reaches of the world. And then we also grow little wild oranges which are really good in all sorts of marmalade.”
She says that while it is more expensive, it is worth it—as the tropical greenhouse is world-famous and the town of Hveragerði has been growing tropical plants for 60 years, thanks to its abundant natural geothermal heat. It is historically significant, as well as being a lot of fun, she says.