Over the years we have talked about many projects related to food: edible packaging, mushrooms grown on waste, materials made from food waste, new eating experiences… Today, however, we present an innovative project linked to food production.
We all know vertical gardens and their variations, but how many of you know underwater farms? Nemo’s Garden by OCEAN REEF is the first example and is located in Liguria, Italy, precisely in Noli. The idea was born in 2012 when, following problems with his own cultivation of basil, Sergio Gamberini embarked on the first rudimentary experiment. In 2013, with the help of Ocean Reef and Gianni Fontanesi, current coordinator, the first pilot project started. After 2 years, it received further funding as a consequence of Expo Milano. (continues)
The project consists of hydroponic systems inserted in biospheres of two meters in diameter and positioned from 5 to 10 meters deep. Thanks to the evaporation of seawater, the environment guarantees fresh water for the hydroponic system, but also stable temperature and humidity, unique lighting conditions, isolation from contamination and the external climate. In the summer, the air temperature inside the biospheres measures between 24-32 °C (75 -90 °F), with a humidity between 80-90%, while the temperature range between day and night is limited to a difference of 5 °C. The domes are made of methacrylate and are stabilized and anchored to the ground with 28 chains, also due to their weight: it is 2,000 liters of air that give an upward thrust of about 2 tons. The diameter of the domes is given by these calculations, a larger size would imply a much more robust anchoring system. At the base, a platform allows you to easily enter inside, where a hydroponic cultivation system is installed. The capacity of one biosphere reaches up to 65 / 95 plants.
The project has a total of six biospheres occupying an area of approximately 93sqm and has already tested underwater cultivation for a total of about 40 different varieties of plants. Each environment is equipped with cameras, lights, sensors, everything that allows you to monitor the variables 24/7, both inside and outside: from anchoring to the quality of the air inside the domes.
Nemo’s Garden by OCEAN REEF is the first example of underwater agriculture with terrestrial plants. In a future scenario of uncontrolled population growth, this alternative to traditional agriculture is regarded as a sustainable way to increase crop yields and meet future food demands in a cost-efficient way, especially in regions stricken by climate change or affected by the scarcity of farming land.
Nemo’s Garden is an innovative and very interesting Italian project that also provides the opportunity to rent a biosphere for your own experiments. Visit their website to find out more and follow the project on Instagram!
Photography © OceanReefGroup