It’s late April. Most farmers have just finished planting their crops. Bren Smith is not planting. He is harvesting his crops in Long Island Sound. Smith’s farm is unusual. Instead of growing corn or wheat, Smith grows seaweed!
Welcome to the world of ocean farming.
Bren Smith checks how well the seaweed on his farm is growing.
A Hidden Farm
On the water, it’s easy to miss Bren Smith’s farm. But there are clues.
A series of white floating balls called buoys bob up and down. Follow them with your eyes. Connect them with make-believe lines. They form an area the size of 30 football fields. That’s the border of the farm.
Look closer. Black buoys dot the water inside the border. They form long lines that mark rows of crops.
Don’t expect to see plants above the water. On an ocean farm, everything is under the sea. Ocean farming has become Bren Smith’s passion.
These black and white buoys are part of Bren Smith's ocean farm.
A New Kind of Farming
Smith always wanted to earn his living on the ocean. As a teenager, he was a commercial fisher. He loved providing food for people. But Smith was troubled. He saw that boats were chugging farther out to sea to find fish. Fish were being caught faster than they
could be replaced. Fishers were overfishing.
Meet Bren Smith.
Bren Smith hauls in a basket from his ocean farm.
Fish populations were getting smaller. Their homes were being destroyed. Nets dragging along the seafloor tore up reefs. They damaged ecosystems where fish and other animals live.
Smith saw all this. He didn’t like being a part of it. He thought we should be able to use ocean resources in a sustainable way.
That means using something without using it up. Smith talked to a scientist who was an expert on seaweed. Smith knew a little bit about seaweed. He knew it looks like a plant but isn’t a plant. It’s a type of algae. He also knew that people ate it.