The activities of Solheimar are based on the ideals of Sesselja Hreindísar Sigmundsdóttur, the village’s young founder who was fascinated by the teachings of Rudolf Steiner. Sesselja was a pioneer in organic farming, not only in Iceland but among all the Nordic countries and was among the first environmentalists in Iceland. Solheimar’s activities are also defined by the goals of intentional community and the Global Eco-Village Network.
Solheimar’s aim is to create a sustainable community with a focus on its people, encouraging the cultivation of man and nature. Emphasis is placed on sustainable construction, power self-sufficiency, organic farming and creating products from natural and/or recycled materials. A variety of companies operate in Solheimar and they all take into account their economic, social and environmental impacts on society.
We have not inherited the earth from our ancestors—we have it on loan from our children
An estimated 15,000 places in the world are built with sustainable development in mind. Solheimar was the first place in Iceland to win international recognition as a sustainable community.
Buildings in harmony with nature
Sesseljuhus Environmental Center is a sustainable building. The choice of construction materials in the building is a model for environmental-friendliness. The building is the first modern building in Iceland completely free of PVC. The building is clad with driftwood found on the shores of Iceland. The paint used inside is made from organic vegetable oils. The walls are insulated with Icelandic lamb wool and the ceilings with recycled paper from old books, phone books and newspapers.
Solheimar has its own hot water supply for all residential and commercial buildings as well as a warm swimming pool. Sesseljuhus is powered partially by solar cells and a wind turbine. There is also a small paddle wheel hydropower station in the river.
Solheimar has the first natural waste treatment system in Iceland, known as synthetic wetlands. These are ecosystems quickly formed and consisting of plants, microorganisms and invertebrates. Species include various sedges and peats, marsh marigolds, manna grass and reeds. The setup was created in collaboration with Design Engineers and the Technological Institute of Biology, with funding by a grant from the Environmental Research Council of Iceland. The system uses a sewage separation system to divide the solid waste from the liquid and divert it for natural breakdown into soil.
Waste sorting and recycling
All garbage in the village is sorted. Food waste and paper are fed to a worm compost system. The composed is used to fertilize the soil in the greenhouses and forestry. Some paper and cardboard gets recycled into works of art, old clothing into rugs and scrap wax into new candles.
Certified organic gardening
Solheimar started organic farming in Iceland and is home to the oldest existing organic garden in the region.
Processing of Icelandic herbs
The herb workshop in Solheimar makes soaps and cosmetics from Icelandic herbs grown in the village.
Certified organic forestry station
Olur Forestry is the only organically certified forestry station in Iceland. It currently turns out four hundred thousand plants annually.
Certified organic egg production
Solheimar’s free range, organically fed chickens produce eggs for use in the community and any excess eggs produced are sold in the store Vala.
Certified organic food
Brekkukot bakery is organically certified and produces bread, cakes, jams, chutney, soups, etc.
Southern Iceland Woods
Solheimar is involved with the Southern Iceland Woods and grows trees on 184 hectares. 17,500 trees are planted annually in Solheimar’s forests beyond the substantial planting that also occurs within the village itself. Overall, there are over 450,000 plantings done by Solheimar annually. This effort to reforest Iceland will help to decrease erosion.
Ecotourism and organic restaurant
The Solheimar Guesthouse works according to the rules of ecotourism and the coffee shop Graena Kannan offers only organic foods.
Sesseljuhus keeps a library of books covering environmental topics with over 500 titles.