Growing vegetables in the Arctic is becoming more of a reality

Innovative permaculture technology has farmers growing vegetables in the extreme cold of the Arctic regions like Norway, Canada and Alaska.

Modern polar permaculture technologies include hydroponic systems, insulated greenhouses and geodesic domes heated by compost.

Benjamin Vidmar, the founder of Polar Permaculture Solutions, began growing microgreens in an insulated room in Longyearbyen, Norway. He then added vermicomposting, which is using red worms with food waste to create a natural fertilizer.

“Everything here is based on taking things from the Earth,” Vidmar told “I feel like I have to do something for this town.”

Other Arctic initiatives

• Ben Canning and Stefany Nieto worked with Enactus Ryerson to co-found Growing North. The organization built a greenhouse that provides produce and fights food insecurity in Canada.

Our youngest customer was about seven years old; she used her allowance money to come into the greenhouse to purchase a head of lettuce and she ate it right there,” Canning told Motherboard. “Our oldest was about 68—an elder in the community—and buys 13 heads of lettuce and a few bags of kale for her family.”

• An old hockey rink in Canada’s Northwest Territories transformed into the Inuvik Community Greenhouse with a 16,000-square-foot garden.

• The Arctic Greens program, run by the Alaska Native Kikiktagruk Inupiat Corporation, uses custom hydroponic grow units to ensure fresh produce for communities in northern Alaska.

Local initiative

Our Doug Oster wrote about a collaboration between Carnegie Mellon architecture students and the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens on custom cold frames.