Earlier this summer I was traveling around west Iceland and the southern part of the Westfjords for work. On the way my travel partner introduced me to Ljómalind Farmers Market in Borgarnes and I instantly liked it. On the surface it looks like your normal run of the mill tourist shop Except it’s not.
I’m obsessed with community projects at the moment. Projects that leave the money that is made in the community. Projects with communal management. Projects that somehow focus on the community. Ljómalind Farmers Market is exactly that. It’s owned by some arts and crafts people native to Borgarnes and the surrounding areas and all the products sold in the store are made by them or someone local. Among other things they offer knitted goods, ceramics, vegetables grown in the area and meat straight from nearby farms (Beint frá býli in Icelandic). They have a very strict process when they take in new products, involving a selection committee that includes people connected to the store and others that have general interest in the area and want to help a project like this thrive. It’s about the community and it’s people. Of course it’s also about business, they are trying to make a living after all, but still.
During those travels I mentioned in the beginning I was surprised to see how many places we visited only offered products that are produced in Reykjavík and nearby towns. I know those are local products too but it’s not the same. When I shop for souvenirs the story behind the items is sometimes almost more important than the items themselves. Buying a factory produced pair of mittens, nice as they are, will never be quite the same as buying a pair from the person who knitted them. Especially accompanied with a great story.
Yesterday, when the boyfriend and I stopped by Ljómalind on our way to visit his family in Borgarnes, it made me smile when we found a beautiful pair of mittens that were knitted by a 96 year old local lady. I had a great grandmother who knitted well into her nineties and mittens were her specialty so I could easily picture the amazing lady (because being 96 and still having the ability to knit is nothing less than amazing) sitting somewhere in a comfy chair with her needles. It was a heartwarming thought.
Ljómalind Farmers Market is on the outskirt of Borgarnes, more precisely it’s on the crossroads where you can choose to turn off road number one to visit the Snæfellsnes peninsula or carry on towards the north. It’s located in a industrial neighborhood and is, as a result, a bit hidden from the road. It’s open every day in the summer but in winter it’s only open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays between 13:00 and 18:00 (1pm and 6pm). The women who own it take turns being there and since they are the people behind the products too you could use the opportunity to chat with them about their stuff. Oh, and make sure you try out some of the jams by the coffee table – delish!