A Man’s Mission to Farm in the Arctic
Benjamin Vidmar lives and works in one of the most northern towns in the world.
He is trying to grow food for the town of about 2,000 people. But that is difficult when temperatures are often below freezing and it stays dark for months in the winter.
Vidmar keeps a greenhouse where he grows vegetables during the short summer when there is 24 hours of sunlight each day.
During the winter, temperatures drop to minus 30 degrees Celsius. But Vidmar still grows what he calls microgreens and raises small birds called quail.
He is the only person who grows any food in the town of Longyearbyen.
The town is only 1,000 kilometers from the North Pole in the Svalbard Archipelago. It once was known for coal mining.
Vidmar spoke to the Thomson Reuters Foundation recently. He said growing food may seem like a "mission impossible" but it is necessary.
"How can people live here?"
Vidmar says he hopes to set an example for other towns in the area.
He said, "We are so dependent on imports. Everything is by boat and plane."
This makes the town vulnerable, he said. For example, when a volcano burst on Iceland in 2010, flights were suspended. As a result, stores in Longyearbyen were empty for a while.
And, Vidmar says, the cost of imported food and its quality "is often disappointing."
So, Vidmar has started a company called Polar Permaculture to produce enough food for the town and to process all its natural waste.
The company has received support from the government.
Last year, the business made enough money to meet its debts after only two years in operation.
The local produce is served in many places in Longyearbyen including its main restaurant.
Vidmar is an American from Cleveland, Ohio. He was working as a cook on a cruise ship when he first arrived in Svalbard in 2007. He says one of his first thoughts on seeing the place was, "how can people live here?"
One year later, he moved to the island and started working at restaurants and drinking places in Longyearbyen.
He decided to grow his own food after he could not find fresh produce.
Making Longyearbyen sustainable
At first he tried growing plants in water instead of soil, a method called hydroponics. But he found he needed to use fertilizer which was not available on the island. So he got permission from officials to bring worms from Florida.
The worms break down organic material that can be used to grow plants.
He said his next project might involve making a biodigester, a device that creates energy from organic material. That way, he could use his greenhouse all year.
Vidmar works with students at the local school to teach them about farming and sustainability.
Teacher Lisa Dymbe Djonne said the students now ask about how the island is supplied.
She told Reuters, "They question the transportation of food from the mainland to here and how expensive that is."
She said the students planned to talk to government leaders about the costs of importing food and the possibility of growing it.
Vidmar sees the barriers to agriculture as the reason to produce "the freshest food possible."
"We're on a mission...to make this town very sustainable, because if we can do it here, then what's everybody else's excuse?"
I'm Mario Ritter.
1.government leaders 政府领导
Royalty and government leaders from all around the world are gathering in Japan.
2.organic material 有机材料
A living organism would take in the radioactive carbon and convert it to organic material.
3.instead of 代替
Take a shower instead of a bath.
4.moved to 移居；前往
After dwelling in Rio for ten years, she moved to Lisbon.
5.As a result, stores in Longyearbyen were empty for a while.
As a result 结果
As a result, industry was overmanned and pen-pushers were everywhere.
As a result, the bad thing has been turned into a good one.
6.As a result, stores in Longyearbyen were empty for a while.
for a while 一段时间
They walked on in silence for a while.
We are off for a while.
他正尝试为小镇内的2000多位居民种植粮食 。但是，这里的室外温度经常低于零下并且冬季时数月不见日光，种植作物的环境恶劣 。
冬季气温会降至零下30摄氏度 。但维德马仍然种植出一种微型菜，还饲养了一种名为“鹌鹑”的鸟类 。
该城镇距北极斯瓦尔巴群岛仅1000公里 。这里曾以煤矿开采而闻名 。
最近，维德马接受了汤森路透基金会的采访 。他说，种植作物看似是一项“不可能完成的任务”，但这件事是必要的 。
他说，“我们过度依赖进口 。所有物品都靠船只和飞机运送 。”
这让整个城镇变得弱不禁风 。例如，2010年，冰岛一座火山爆发，飞机被迫停飞 。结果，一段时间内，朗伊尔城的商店空空如也 。
因此，维德马创办了一家名为Polar Permaculture的公司，为该镇提供充足的食物并处理其所有的自然废弃物 。
维德马来自美国俄亥俄州克利夫兰 。2007年，他首次来到斯瓦尔巴群岛时在一艘游轮上担任厨师 。他说看到这个地方时，第一个念头是“人们在这里怎么生活？”
但他发现，岛上并没有他需要使用的肥料 。于是他得到当地官员的许可，从佛罗里达带来了一种虫子 。
他表示，下一个项目可能是制造一款生物煮解器，一种利用有机材料制造能量的装置 。这样，他的温室就可以全年投入使用 。
老师丽萨（Lisa Dymbe Djonne）表示，现在学生们会询问岛上的食品供应情况 。