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Nemo’s Garden: these futuristic underwater farms could be a viable solution to future food security

3 min read

Better Society
Nemo’s Garden: these futuristic underwater farms could be a viable solution to future food security
Source: NemosGarden.com

Working together, scuba divers and agricultural experts have developed a project to grow plants in pods on the sea floor, and the science behind it is compelling.

Underwater farms may be the next big thing in food production

Though you could be mistaken for thinking it’s a scene from a Jim Cameron movie, what you’re looking at is possibly the next big thing in farming solutions: Nemo’s Garden — inside transparent inflatable biospheres anchored to the bottom of the sea in the Bay of Noli, Italy, grow strawberries, basil, beans, garlic and lettuce. The plants are kept hydrated by rivulets of water that condense on the inner walls of the biospheres and trickle down to an irrigation system, and the near-constant temperature around the clock at those depths creates ideal growing conditions. Oh, and let’s not forget, no airborne bugs means no need for pesticides! Win-win!

Nemo's Garden: Italy's incredible underwater farm Though it may look like something you’d find in a Jim Cameron movie, this is the work of Ocean Reef Group. By teaming up with agricultural experts, the Genova-based scuba diving company is applying its knowledge and technology to finding new ways to produce food. Source: Facebook/WorldEconomicForum

Fathoming out Nemo’s Garden

It all began 5 years ago when Sergio Gamberini was enjoying summer vacation in Noli, Italy. Not only has scuba diving long been a business related activity for Sergio, but also a passion and a hobby deeply rooted in him. 

Everything related to life in the ocean always has had a special place in Gamberini’s heart.  His life could be described as constant hard working, family and the ocean.

With that in mind, it’s easy to understand why nobody was too surprised when he came up with yet another idea to work at while on vacation. However this time the idea seemed particularly…. odd.

So, Sergio began by making some phone calls and started building, with the help of his team at Ocean Reef Group, a number of small transparent, airtight balloons – then, they sank them and filled them with air while underwater, they then anchored them to the sea bed and, last of all, sowed seeds in little planters inside!

The idea he had was to leverage the innate properties of large bodies of water – an almost constant temperature, paired with the natural evaporation of a surface of liquid in contact with an air space – to create underwater greenhouses! Genius!

Source: NemosGarden

Among the early crops planted were basil (pictured), strawberries, beans, garlic and lettuce.
Is Sea Basil a thing? It is now! Among the early crops planted were basil (pictured), strawberries, beans, garlic and lettuce. Source: NemosGarden.com

Plants growing underwater may unveil interesting discoveries for the future

On the Nemo’s Gardern website they say that with some years of experimentation behind them, a number of biospheres created, vegetable crops, rough seas that destroyed everything, live web streaming from underwater, studies, data collecting, they are now moving the experiment’s site to the next level: more biospheres, different materials, more sensors, more cabling, hydroponic culture, and more webcams etc.

This year (2017), they continue, ‘we draw the line for feasibility, industrialisation, large scale production to really give an alternative solution to grow food in a responsible, small-footprint-on-earth kind of way.’

In 2016 they added a different technology content to the experiment site: they moved to all-rigid acrylic biospheres, they wired all bios rather than just one with multiple sensors; they created a complex system of remote accessible and activated mechanisms such as fans, internal and external cameras wi-fi and intercom in all of the biospheres.

The interest and seriousness of the project has drawn attention to the research side as well, and they have now successfully rented their little underwater labs to pharmaceutical companies who believe, as they do at Nemo’s Garden, that plants growing underwater may unveil interesting discoveries for the future.

Source: NemosGarden

An almost constant temperature, paired with the natural evaporation of a surface of liquid in contact with an air space, creates underwater greenhouses.
Balloon with a view: this basil will spend its entire lifecycle beneath the sea An almost constant temperature, paired with the natural evaporation of a surface of liquid in contact with an air space, creates underwater greenhouses. Source: NemosGarden.com
Scuba divers and agricultural experts teamed up to develop the project to grow plants in pods on the sea floor.
Another hard day at the office… Scuba divers and agricultural experts teamed up to develop the project to grow plants in pods on the sea floor. Source: NemosGarden.com
The Ocean Reef Group behind Nemo's Garden has now successfully rented their little underwater labs to pharmaceutical companies who believe that plants growing underwater may unveil interesting discoveries for the future.
I’m forever growing bubbles… The Ocean Reef Group behind Nemo’s Garden has now successfully rented their little underwater labs to pharmaceutical companies who believe that plants growing underwater may unveil interesting discoveries for the future. Source: NemosGarden.com
Mini Nemo’s Garden is a scaled down 100% functional version of the installations submerged off the coast of Italy.
Your very own Nemo’s Garden! Mini Nemo’s Garden is a scaled down 100% functional version of the installations submerged off the coast of Italy. Source: NemosGarden.com
Make an Impact

Own your very own 'Nemo's Garden' reseach pod

Nemo’s Garden want to offer the World an alternative to standard greenhouses, a new branch for green and blue economy, with the Mini Nemo’s Garden they would love to have your help in the process. Both with supporting them and researching on your own Mini Nemo’s. This link will take you to where you can find out more. Become involved. Support. Own your own Mini Nemo's Garden!