This article by Bonnie Riva Ras originally appeared on Goodnet.
Nemo’s Garden is not your typical farm. That’s because this unique agricultural enterprise is located under the sea just off the coast of Italy. The unique biosphere just started producing fruits and vegetables again.
The project was created in 2012 by Sergio Gamberini, the founder of the Ocean Reef Group, a diving equipment firm. One day when he was resting between dives, he came up with the idea of growing basil under water in ideal growing conditions according to Nemo’s Garden website. It would combine his two passions: scuba diving and gardening.
Gamberini made some phone calls and he and his team started experimenting by sinking transparent biospheres 6 meters below the surface of the sea and filling them with water. A few days later, according to Random Times, he placed a vase with basil seeds in a biosphere and it sprouted after only 48 hours.
The result of this is Nemo’s Garden, a project that is looking to create sustainable agriculture underwater.
The six unit biosphere farm uses renewable energy from the sun and desalinated water to make it a fully self-sustainable project. It is like a greenhouse without any additional power source.
The project was starting to yield herbs, lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, and other fruits and vegetables when it suffered storm damage in 2019 according to Euro News. Then came the coronavirus pandemic and due to restrictions, the habitat could not be staffed and just recently reopened.
Nemo’s Gardens project manager, Gianni Fontanesi, has logged almost a thousand dives to take care of the underwater farm, according to Random Times. He told the news organization that being in the underwater greenhouse is like being in an inside out aquarium. “You are the fish looking out into the outside world,” Fontanesi said.
The biosphere system has drawn the attention of researchers and Nemo’s Garden has been rented to pharmaceutical companies that want to explore this unique plant growing method said the company.
“Every year, we are discovering new possible applications for the biospheres,” said Fontanesi. These include eco-tourism, seaweed farming, sustainable fish farming, and scientific research.
But Nemo’s Garden is not the only underwater farm. An organization called GreenWave developed a method of vertical underwater farming that is also known as regenerative ocean farming. This allows them to grow seaweed and farm shellfish.
Using our seas to sustainably grow food is one of the ways to produce more food in a growing hungry world. It can also be a way to sequester carbon and reduce the greenhouse gasses that land agriculture produces.
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