While I was driving around Iceland in the summer of 2009, I stopped by at the farm Árbæ to taste their ice cream named: “Jöklaís”, which means “Glacier ice cream” in English. Because I liked it, I asked Sæmundar Jón Jónsson, the farmer there, if I could interview him and he agreed. The interview can be seen in the video and he also shows how he makes ice cream.
He told me that it was his wife, Anne Manly Thomsen, idea to make ice cream. They use the Farmhouse Ice Cream concept from Ice Delite BV. This is Europe’s largest chain of professional ice cream producers. The company helps dairy farmers and fruit producers to produce ice creams and sorbets from their fresh produce, which is particularly appreciated by top restaurants. The company provides equipment and over 400 recipes.
While Jón milks the cows, the cream is separate automatically from the milk. Then the cream is mixes with flavors and other ingredients, but no food colors or preservatives are added. Then the cream is poured into the top of the ice cream machine, where it is pasteurized, and then it is passed into the main chamber of the machine to be churned and frozen.
Many different types of flavors can be used but what I find most interesting is that he uses blueberries and the flower Dandelion, which both are picked in the nature of the area. Besides tasting good they are also healthy. Blueberries are well known and contain antioxidant pigments. But Dandelion does not enjoy the respect it deserves and is even often just considered annoying weed in gardens. The English name Dandelion is a corruption of the French name “dent de lion” meaning “lion’s tooth”, referring to the coarsely toothed leaves. The names of the plant have the same meaning in several other European languages, such as in Italian “dente di leone”, Portuguese “dente-de-leão”, Danish “Løvetand” and German “Löwenzahn”. Dandelion leaves contain abundant amounts of vitamins and minerals, especially Vitamins A, C and K, and is good sources of calcium, potassium and fair amounts of iron and manganese, higher than similar leafy greens such as spinach. Its leaves and buds is part of traditional Mediterranean and Asian, most notably Chinese and Korean cuisine. Also used in traditional Chinese medicine. The flowers can also be fermented to make wine. Not many flowers can brag about such a record of achievements!
Jon’s parents have the farm Brunnhóll, which is very close to his farm. At the farm they run a guesthouse and restaurant and it’s only about 6 km from Vatnajökull, which is the largest glacier mass in Europe. This non-smoking guesthouse has accommodation for over 40 guests and most rooms come with their own bathroom. Beside offering home-cooked breakfast and dinner, there is also a fully equipped kitchen for the use of guests. There are certified facilities for the disabled.
His parents are member of the Icelandic Farm Holidays (farmholidays.is), which is an association/chain of nearly 140 Icelandic farmers offering accommodation and various activities to travelers. It is also fully licensed tour operator and a travel agent owned by the farmers. The association is continuously improving the performance in co-operation with the members and other partners.
The association has worked on a project with EC3 Global (ec3global.com), which is an internationally advisory group, assisting the public and private sectors as well as individual communities to become environmentally, socially and economically sustainable. The Green Globe 21 certification process is an international benchmarking and certification system for the travel and tourism industry. Organizations such as the World Tourism Organization (WTO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) are members of this program. The World Tourism and Travel Council (WTTC) developed the system in 1993 on the basis of the Australian “Eco Certification Program” and ISO standards. It is also based upon the Agenda 21 for the Travel and Tourism Industry: Towards Environmentally Sustainable Development, which listed an action plan for a number of overall objectives for the industry. The plan was originally endorsed by 182 heads of state at the United Nations Rio De Janeiro Earth Summit of 1992. It addresses the major environmental challenges that face our planet today, including green house gas emissions. Brunnhóll is one of the few farms in Iceland, which has received the Green Globe 21 certification.
The Icelandic Farm Holidays association is also in cooperation with the company Better Business (betterbusiness.se) with a project called “Improving Quality and Service within Icelandic Farm Holidays”. This company is located in Sweden and specializes in Mystery Shopping, which are anonymous visits, used to measure how the average Customer is treated. The anonymous shopper observe carefully before, during and after the visit and note how the company acts on the specific areas that the company has chosen to focus on. The shoppers must all evaluate in the same way so that the reports will be possible to compare. They should not be demanding, critical or difficult, or in any way catch attention. When the report arrives to Better Business it is reviewed by the Project Manager or Project Assistant. The result is then compiled and sent to the Client. Anyone can register as a Mystery Shopper and it is easy to combine this work with studies or another job since the person often can choose when to do the assignments. The shoppers have to sign a promise not to spread any information about the assignment or client. In the summer of 2008, there were 22 farms that took part in this project and 5 of them received recognition for “Super Service”, scoring over 85% in total. One of these farms was Brunnhóll.