Erpsstaðir: A Genuine Icelandic Farm Experience
In the Northwest of Iceland, on the road 60 to the Westfjords, one can find plenty of farms. But one of them stands out. There you can buy milk products firsthand as well as having the opportunity to visit the animals on the farm. You can even stay there overnight in an old farmhouse, away from other tourists. This farm is called Erpsstaðir, named after an Irish son of an earl, who was freed from enslavement in Ireland and came to Iceland where he acquired this piece of land back in the days of the settling of Iceland.
Þorgrímur Einar Guðbjartsson bought Erpsstaðir in 1997 together with his wife, Helga Elínborg Guðmundsdóttir. They have been living there ever since with their five children, building up the farm both as a technically advanced dairy farm and a pleasant place to visit for all those seeking to experience a real Icelandic farm and to visit the animals living there. On the farm, there are 60 cows, 120 calfs, a couple of sheep and horses, cats, dogs, rabbits and guinea pigs in addition to the family itself.
Erpsstadir specializes in home made dairy products, which they sell on the farm. This mode of trade has grown hugely in popularity in Iceland since the Icelandic bankcrash in the year 2008, as people have started to revaluate what kind of lives they want to live as well as being more conscious of what they are buying and from whom they are buying.
“I had always been interested in making my own dairy products on the farm as I’m educated as a dairy technician. When we built the new cowshed a couple of years back, we decided to make a space both for processing the dairy at home and to have a reception so guests could come and buy our products and see the cowshed,” says Þorgrímur. “Now we are working on decorating the reception, or the shop, to have a bit of an information center about the Icelandic cow, both new and older trivia as well as practical information”.
Erpsstaðir offers it’s visitors three kinds of milk products. Firstly, their icecream called “Kjaftæði” in Icelandic, which could be translated literally as something like “a blast in the mouth” when the general meaning in Icelandic is something more like “bullshit”. “The icecream was really popular last summer, we had “icecream weather” the whole summer so people stopped on their way to have something cool and to see the animals. It was the first summer our reception was open so we had planned to start slowly and only have it open during weekends. But the icecream was such a hit that we needed to have the shop open every day!”
Secondly, if you love the white, wet cheese that is originally from Greece, you will find one like that on Erpsstaðir called “The Greek”. Thirdly, one can get the traditional Icelandic “skyr” there, yet to be named. “We just started the dairy production but it has been a success although it takes a lot of work. Already, we have an extra employee working in the production,” says Þorgrímur.
The farm itself is just by the road, which makes it really easy to find and a convenient place to visit if one is driving through. “We get a lot of young families with children,” says Þorgrímur. “Which is maybe not surprising as this is the ideal place to visit with your children. They can have a treat in the form of an icecream and see the animals. I always recommend that people give themselves some time to stop so the kids can have a good look and connect with the animals, instead of just grabbing an icecream and driving off. During the summertime one can get a guided tour around the cowshed on weekends and even on other days if someone is available. People can, of course, always call ahead to guarantee a tour.”
Þorgrímur and his wife also rent out the old farmhouse as an accommodation for 6-10 people in a group. “What we want to offer is the quietude of the Icelandic countryside. You are not surrounded by other tourists, you are completely by yourself, even in a good distance from us, the farm itself,” says Þorgrímur. “In fact, you only need a toothbrush, everything else is already there, even the food!”
Erpsstaðir is rather central in the West of Iceland, so if one wishes to examine that part of the country, it might be a good idea to stay on Erpstaðir for a couple of days to explore the area. “Erpsstaðir is in a convenient driving distance to both the Snæfellsnes peninsula, Hólmavík on the West fjords and even all the way south to Borgarnes, so there are plenty of things to do. The neighbouring area also offers a lot of entertainment, such as Eiríksstaðir in Haukadal, birthpalce of Leif the lucky “ says Þorgrímur.
Further information and booking can be reached through the website www.erpsstadir.is and the email address: [email protected].