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Nemo’s Garden: the world’s first underwater farm

3 min read

From terracing to paddy fields, farmers around the world have used ingenious methods to grow crops in inhospitable environments. But the underwater farms are really uniques!
We are in Noli, in the region of Liguria, northwest Italy.
This coastal region is known for its picturesque seaside villages and beautiful coastline. But in Noli, the real attraction lies at the bottom of the sea!

Just off Noli’s beach, a team of professional scuba divers has created the world’s first underwater farm, in which more than 700 plants, including tomatoes, basil, and strawberries, are grown in six underwater greenhouses attached to the seafloor with 28 removable screws.
The project, called Nemo’s Garden, come from a brilliant idea of Sergio Gamberini, a chemical engineer who runs a scuba diving business, founder of diving equipment firm Ocean Reef Group. In the summer of 2012, he was enjoying a seaside vacation on the Italian Riviera. Resting in between dives, he enjoyed strolling along the edge of the sea chatting with friends.
One day, the conversation veered to his other passion: gardening.
Would it be possible, he wondered, to create the perfect growing conditions for basil, the most popular local herb and an essential ingredient for pesto?
Like most herbs, basil prefers protected, sunny locations with well-drained soils and a constant, stable temperature.
Looking at the sea, Gamberini had an unusual, brilliant idea: why not try to grow basil underwater? Bizarre as it might have seemed, the idea made perfect sense coming from a diving aficionado and innovation-minded entrepreneur. In fact, it would have allowed Mr. Gamberini to combine two of his passions: scuba diving and gardening.
Several days later, he plunged to the bottom of Noli’s bay and placed a vase with basil seeds inside a plastic balloon. After 48 hours, the seeds were sprouting and Gamberini decided to scale up the experiment. With the help of his team at Ocean Reef Group, continued experimenting, sinking transparent biospheres 6 meters below the surface of the sea and filling them with air.

Plants are grown thanks to a hybrid technique that supplements natural resources, such as sunlight, with electricity and fresh water pumped from land via a system of tubes. But the ultimate goal of the project is to create self-sufficient underwater farming that could be applied in parts of the world where water is scarce.
Gianni Fontanesi, Nemo’s Garden project manager, has logged nearly a thousand dives to perform underwater farming. He says that being inside the greenhouse is like being in an aquarium turned inside out: “You are the fish looking out into the outside world.”

Source and official website: Nemosgarden.com. Images from Web.

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