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GreenWave startup program for ocean farmers

November 20, 2016
AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com

Bren Smith’s GreenWave is creating jobs via ocean farming of “sea greens.”

Bren Smith’s GreenWave is creating jobs via ocean farming of “sea greens.”

Forbes is running an interview with Bren Smith, an Ashoka Fellow and the founder of GreenWave, an organization dedicated to restoring oceans, mitigating climate change and creating jobs via ocean farming of sea greens and shellfish. Here are some highlights from that interview:

“Part of our mission here at GreenWave is to change people’s perception of seaweeds, and we are doing that by referring to seaweed and other macroalgae as ‘sea greens.’ Because that’s closer to what they really are – vital food from the ocean, and not nuisance ‘weed’.”

“Kelp is one of the fastest growing plants in the world — in ideal conditions it can grow two feet a day. When you’re farming it, you can go from seed to harvest in just two weeks. It’s also one of the most carbon absorbing plants. And from a nutritional standpoint, kelp is high in protein, low in fat, and loaded with good vitamins and minerals including hard-to-find Vitamin B-12 and Omega-3 fatty acids.”

“When I talk about reimagining the seafood plate, the main point here is that people keep tweaking our unsustainable food system in small ways, but they’re not yet reimagining the plate based on what our planet can provide. This is where the promise of 3D Ocean Farming comes in: We can grow nutritious food with zero inputs – no water, no land, no fertilizers. Just oceans and the sun. It’s the most sustainable form of food production on the planet and, in fact, it improves our oceans, which is why we call it restorative farming.

“We’ve already proven that with 20 acres, a boat, and $20,000 you can get started as a small ocean farmer. That is a godsend for a fishing industry that is in decline and for fishermen who are increasingly finding themselves out of work. This represents a reboot, a new chance.”

“What GreenWave has done is provide farmers with early support and best practices – and we’ve also become an education and evangelizing platform. We’ve built the largest network of sea greens hatcheries in the US to supply our farmers with reliable seed. But the industry needs some major infrastructure investment to take off, and the time is now. We’re talking about the infrastructure that helps farmers get their products to market. That can mean solar-powered boats that can harvest 250,000 pounds instead of the 30-foot boats most are using now. It means processing facilities that get farmers’ products to market in the form of kelp noodles, jerky, animal feed and the many other uses for kelp. It means packaging and distribution infrastructure that is tailored to water-based agriculture. And of course, it means helping grow the market and demand for these products.”

“We need a Manhattan Project for ocean greens. We can bring together the best minds who want to do agriculture in the right way – that’s good for the planet, healthy for people and creates good jobs, meaning that young farmers can actually afford the leases to farm the ocean. And that revitalizes communities, and positions the same people who have been left behind in the industrial, dirty economy as a restorative force for the planet.”

“This is one of the clearest ways to leverage the tool of capitalism in a way that can produce significant positive social returns. Sea greens are already a $7-10 billion industry globally. So we’re not starting from scratch, and yet we’re just scratching the surface. There are over 10,000 edible plants in the ocean.”

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