Farming is closely tied to its environment and its success relies heavily on the conditions therein, but it often takes away more than it puts back. While drawing from an environment and altering it to yield produce is a tried and proven approach to farming, there may be a better way to do it, especially if you look at what’s possible when you go offshore. This new method of ocean farming aims to create a more productive and sustainable growth model that’s actually designed to restore its environment, not deplete it.

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Food, Fuel, And Natural Filtration
Green Wave is a non-profit company that recently won the 2015 Buckminster Fuller Challenge with its vertical underwater farming system. The system consists of a network of floating ropes, anchors, and cages that foster the growth of seaweed, scallops, muscles, oysters, and clams. Besides creating a zero-input means of producing shellfish, animal feed, fertilizers, biofuels, and more, the submerged vertical farm would naturally filter millions of gallons of seawater every day.

The seaweed crops would also eliminate five times more carbon dioxide than plants on land. The twenty tons of sea vegetables and 500,000 shellfish the system could produce annually is a significant yield, especially if the average person makes bivalves like clams and scallops a bigger part of his or her diet. According to Green Wave founder Bren Smith, a network of farms covering an area the size of Washington State would technically produce enough food to feed the globe.

An Inclusive Approach
Green Wave’s vertical ocean farming system has been set up to be an inclusive approach to sustainable production. The company is currently providing new farmers with grants, low-cost seed, free gear, and training. Smith has said that twenty acres, a boat, and a $30,000 investment are all it takes to have a farm up and running in a year’s time. The company also offers a guarantee to purchase 80% of crops over five years at three times the market rate.

With its simple setup, high yield potential, and the company’s welcome to possible participants, could vertical ocean farms help make food more plentiful and the oceans cleaner by becoming an ocean acidification solution? Tell us your thoughts on this method in the comments.

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