Can we restore our seas through ocean farming?
Bren Smith, a former fisherman turned ocean farmer, and the founder of GreenWave, shares how they are restoring their local seas by growing seaweed and shellfish.
The GreenWave Model: Regenerative Ocean Farming
GreenWave’s polyculture farming system grows a mix of seaweeds and shellfish that require zero inputs—making it the most sustainable form of food production on the planet—while sequestering carbon and rebuilding reef ecosystems. Since the farms sit vertically below the surface, they produce high yields with a small footprint. With a low barrier to entry, anyone with 20 acres, a boat, and $20-50K can start their own farm.
GreenWave’s model is deployed for both reforestation, to restore ocean ecosystems and capture blue carbon, and commercial farming, to grow seaweed and shellfish used for food, fertilizer, animal feed, bioplastics, and more.
Underwater 3D farms could revolutionize food production, using previously untapped space to grow kelp, scallops and mussels - all whilst drawing carbon out of the atmosphere.
GreenWave trains and supports regenerative ocean farmers in the era of climate change. We work with coastal communities throughout North America to create a blue green economy—built and led by regenerative ocean farmers—that ensures we all make a living on a living planet.
As a nonprofit, GreenWave’s 10 year goal is to provide training, tools, and support to a baseline of 10,000 regenerative ocean farmers to catalyze the planting of 1 million acres and yield meaningful economic and climate impacts.
To date, GreenWave has trained and supported more than 120 farmers and hatchery technicians throughout New England, California, New York, the Pacific Northwest, and Alaska. With over 5,000 people waitlisted for our services, GreenWave works with farmers to launch and scale their businesses through a mix of training and innovation. Our high-and-low touch training ranges from an online seed-to-sale Regenerative Ocean Farming Toolkit and region-specific workshops to hands-on internships and participation in our farmer support network. Their innovation program works to scale markets in four shovel-ready sectors - food, agriculture, bioplastics and Blue Carbon - as well as disseminate the latest farm, hatchery and blue tech design throughout our farmer network.
Seaweed harvesting once was a major industry in the United States. In the early 1900s, 1,500 workers produced 52 different products from kelp on the docks of San Diego. The industry died after WWII (due to over harvesting), but it’s proof that seaweed was once a tangible part of the U.S. coastal economy.
Fast forward to today and growth projections for farmed seaweed are strong. One recent study estimates the industry will grow to $92 billion by 2025 across a diverse range of markets.
To separate wheat from chaff, GreenWave has identified four industries that they see as viable, shovel-ready sales channels for farmers: food, bioplastics, agricultural products, and blue carbon. These as the primary drivers of near-term market growth.