499: Benjamin Vidmar on Growing Food at the Pole.

Creating a circular food system in the arctic extremes.

In This Podcast:

Dropping everything and moving to the northernmost city in the world might be what some people would call ‘extreme’, yet Chef Benjamin Vidmar did that and is going even further by working towards a zero-waste food system for the city. He shares how this project uses permaculture in a city that imports its food and exports its waste, and how he has garnered the city leaders’ support. Listen in to see how you can help. Don’t Miss an Episode!! Click HERE to sign up for regular podcast updates

Our Guest:

Benjamin is an Eco-chef and Foodie from Cleveland, Ohio with over 20 years of international experience. After working for 18 years as a professional chef in the United States, Asia, and Scandinavia, he visited Svalbard, Norway for the first time in 2007 and instantly fell in love with the Arctic. After several years as the head chef at Svalbard Pub, he felt called to interrupt and innovate a food system that simply wasn’t working.

In 2015 he created Polar Permaculture to help restore sustainable systems in the “northern most” town in the world. Today, Polar Permaculture produces farm fresh, nutritious vegetables, microgreens, and sprouts for the local community with a sustainable, circular system in mind.  Their intent is to produce enough food for the entire town of Longyearbyen and process all of the community’s organic and biological waste.

Listen in and learn about:

  • Living in Norway’s Treaty land Svalbard in the northernmost city in the world
  • Cooking in Pittsburgh and reading about permaculture and living unplugged in between jobs instead of driving home.
  • Teaching cooking and English in Asia, and getting hired to work as a chef on a cruise ship
  • Getting off the ship and applying to work at the Radisson as a chef.
  • Taking his permaculture design course in Vermont and going back to Svalbard
  • The remote aspect of Svalbard and relying on so many resources to be shipped in – with a high CO2 cost
  • Working with leaders and community members to build a greenhouse and work towards a circular food system.
  • Taking a page out of a major paint company on testing concepts in the extreme arctic weather.
  • Starting with leafy greens and the circular system that reduces the waste output to as close to zero as possible.
  • The zero-waste restaurant system where resources are as local as possible and the waste is used in compost processing.
  • The growing seasons in the arctic and how they adjust for the polar “night”
  • The tourism aspect of his business with 2-hour and 4-hour tours.
  • Permaculture Postcards from the Northernmost city in the world

As well as:

  • His failure – Trying to “do the right thing” at all costs.
  • His success – Getting the feasibility study done and finally getting validated so town could see the results
  • His drive – To make the zero-waste, food-growing in the North Pole project work.
  • His advice – Follow your dreams!

Ben’s Book recommendations*:     

“Thick Face, Black Heart: The Warrior Philosophy for Conquering the Challenges of Business and Life by Chin Ning Chi

How to reach Ben:  

Website: PolarPermaculture.com

Facebook: Polar Permaculture

Special Offer:

This contest period is closed. We say “Thank You” to Benjamin for this offer.


Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase we will earn a nominal commission at no cost to you. We offer links to items recommended by our podcast guest as a service to our audience and these items are not selected because of the commission we receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.


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