The Ocean Reef Group has built a one-of-a-kind building made up of six underwater greenhouses off the coast of Noli, Italy, in 2012 where they plant veggies under water. The project gradually began to generate various herbs such as basil, several varieties of salad, tomatoes, courgettes, beans, green peas, aloe vera, mushrooms, and strawberries. While it may sound strange, this is the actual result of years of experimentation with underwater.
Plants are produced using a hybrid technology that combines natural resources such as sunshine with power and fresh water pumped from the ground via a tube system. However, the project’s ultimate objective is to develop self-sufficient underwater farming that may be used in areas of the world where water is limited.
Gianni Fontanesi, the project manager for Nemo’s Garden, has made over a thousand dives to undertake underwater farming. He compares being inside the greenhouse to being inside an aquarium turned inside out.
The greenhouses have the appearance of balloons or enormous jellyfish. They are open at the bottom and function underwater like diving bells, trapping air that is not displaced by sea water. Sea water evaporates into the greenhouse over time, where it condenses as fresh water and drops into the seedbeds positioned all around the walls, forming a sort of automated watering system. The balloons are attached to the ocean floor at a depth of around eight meters, where the plants inside the biosphere may still thrive.
A Tree of Life stands in the heart of Nemo’s Garden, signifying “evolution and the quest for creativity and technological development, implying a drive toward the future.”
Gamberini and his colleagues began their research using basil. It’s incredibly easy to cultivate, looks perfectly at home in Nemo’s Garden, and has already produced quite a few jars of sea pesto. Working with basil allowed the researchers to discover the optimal underwater conditions for plant development by monitoring its progress through webcam. Soon after, the team expanded their testing phase to include beans, strawberries, garlic, lettuce, and, most recently, marigolds. The farming method is easily adaptable to any sort of crop that does not require direct sunlight.
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