Will the food of the future be grown in pods under the sea?


A project called Nemo’s Garden is pioneering a new type of hydroponics by growing plants in balloon pods anchored to the seabed.

The man behind the idea, Italian scuba diver Sergio Gamberini, aims to utilise the constant temperatures and lack of weather extremes in large bodies of water, as well as the natural evaporation created when a surface of liquid is in contact with an air space, to create what is essentially an underwater greenhouse.

bob3 2After two years of experimentation, Luca Gamberini, also president of diving innovation company Ocean Reef Group, says the project is feasible for industrialisation and large-scale production, “ to really give an alternative solution to grow food in a responsible, small-footprint-on-earth kind of way”.

The project has been set up in the sea off Noli, in northern Italy, where the likes of basil, tomatoes and strawberries have all been successfully grown in the underwater pods. The crops are kept constantly hydrated by the drops of condensation from within the balloons, and the aforementioned temperature consistency provides a perfect growing environment. A control centre back on land allows the team to assess the progress of the plants from a distance.

Nemo’s Garden was brought to life by a Kickstarter campaign which saw 75 backers pledge $31,130 to the idea.

“The main target of this project is to create alternative sources of plant production in areas where environmental conditions make it extremely difficult to grow crops through conventional farming, including a lack of fresh water or fertile soils, and extreme temperature changes,” a spokesperson told the Daily Mail.

He added: ‘We are trying to find an alternative and economically viable technology enabling efficient production.”