An Icelandic food coop is born

Things are boiling at the old gas station in Seyðisfjörður. Throughout the past year the gas station has been turned into a vegetable and fruit heaven as Austurlands Food Coop has taken over the operations. The mission of the local company is clear: bringing quality fruits and vegetables to people in Iceland.

The company was founded by Jonathan Moto Bisagni and Ida Feltendal. The entrepreneurial couple met in Seyðisfjörður a few years ago having come to town from New York and Denmark respectively. Jonathan came to work as a chef at the Norð Austur sushi restaurant and Ida as an artist at the HEIMA Art Residency. Today, they have settled in Seyðisfjörður with their sons, Oskar and Theodor.

Back in January 2019 Jonathan and Ida shipped the first fruits and vegetables for their mixed boxes on the Norröna ferry that runs between Hirtshals in Denmark and Seyðisfjörður. The local community in Seyðisfjörður supported the initiative by buying the boxes and Austurlands Food Coop saw the light of day as the demand grew every week the following months.

Today, more than 4 tons of vegetables and fruits are shipped to Seyðisfjörður every week. The company emphasises on primarily organic and season-based crops and the greens are ordered from a supplier in Denmark, who works with European farmers predominantly.

Austurlands Food Coop has grown in size to keep up with the rising demand for fresh greens. The first focus was to supply the people in Austurland with fresh food. Today, the company delivers around 350 boxes all around Iceland every week and Jonathan and Ida have experienced an enormous support from both rural and urban communities. In Siglufjörður, in Reykjavík and even on Vestmannaeyjar, volunteers are helping out by packing and distributing the boxes in their local areas.

In a few weeks’ time the newest project of the company will be revealed. The former gas station in Seyðisfjörður will re-open as a coffee shop and food market with fresh vegetables and dry goods such as rice, flour and beans in bulk. The idea is not only to create a hub for good foods and coffee, but also to establish a kitchen where people can join workshops to learn how to bake sourdough bread, ferment foods and much more.

All eyes are on Austurlands Food Coop at the moment as they continue to spread around the island supplying the people in Iceland with fresh and healthy foods.

Text: Nanna Vibe Spejlborg Juelsbo

Photo: Ida, Johnny and their son Oskar Moto Feltendal-Bisagni. Photographer: Daníel Örn Gíslason.

This article was first published in a special edition of Austurglugginn dedicated to the foreign-born residents of Austurland // Greinin birtist upphaflega í sérstakri útgáfu Austurgluggans sem unnin var í samstarfi við Austurbrú þar sem fjallað var um málefni fólks af erlendum uppruna á Austurlandi.