The municipality of Mineralni Bani in the Rhodope Mountains of Bulgaria announced that several local greenhouses now run on municipal thermal mineral water. The greenhouses, in their own right, produce cucumbers, and according to Mayor Mumun Iskender, one of the greenhouses even features music, allowing the veggies to grow in a relaxed spa environment.
Apart from the apparent emotional benefits of growing cucumbers with spa water, there is also a very real cost savings benefit for using geothermal water. According to a statement by the city, the natural spring water comes to the ground with a temperature of 56 to 67 degrees Celcius, meaning that the greenhouses will require very little additional heating. This is a key development in greenhouse farming, as high energy prices in the winter can drive the cost of produce up an unreasonable amount.
A spa town open to agriculture
The small town of Mineralni Bani (the name translates as Mineral Baths) has around 14 natural hot springs and has been in use as a resort spot since at least roman times. In recent decades, the town has remained somewhat insular due to its mountain location and low population count.
Nevertheless, it still manages to attract quite a bit of visitors and tourists, as it’s an obscure spa location for the region. Despite a population of just 6,000 people, Mineralni Bani has spa and hotel services to offer. Now, the city has opted to sell off the rights to some of that water to agricultural investors. According to an official statement, the springs flow with a capacity of around 50 liters per second. The municipality has sold off 17 liters per second for agriculture.