ROSES GREW ON SNOW
“They have to sell and leave, they can't go on like this any more”, Eiríkur, my husband, said one evening some 5 years ago after hanging up the phone with his parents. Gústi, his father, was suffering from all kinds of ailments, yet for as long as I have known him, he woke up every morning at the crack of dawn and spent his day growing roses until dinner time.
Icelandic greenhouses represent a farming tradition of almost 2 centuries. Already in 1850 geothermal energy was used to heat soil for growing potatoes, with the first known geothermal greenhouses being built in 1924. Due to the use of geothermal energy for heating, electricity and soil disinfection, Icelandic greenhouses have a low environmental footprint. And while agriculture contributes 4.41% of the national GDP, only 1.2% goes back to agriculture, leading a long tradition of sustainable farming in Iceland to financial starvation. This is reflected in the story of the Sælands.
Ásta and Gústi started their life in Laugarás in 1967. They lived in Laugarás, next to the greenhouses that Ásta’s parents built in the 1940s and for 53 years they have been growing roses and what not in a land that, to many, would seem barren. But due to their old age and the minimal profit, they need to sell and move away. For all this time, they continued on the farming tradition of their family, that went on for 4 generations.
Through photographing the last steps of the Sælands in Laugarás and the use of archival material, I wanted to create a small arc of Icelandic tradition. An arc that speaks of commitment, and the respectful relationship between man and the land he inhabits.
Exhibited at the National Museum of Iceland
Special mention at HARMONY. WITH RAGUSA FOTO FESTIVAL 2022
Special mention at URBANAUTICA INSTITUTE AWARDS 2021
© VASSILIS TRIANTIS