Growing Strawberries at the Bottom of the Ocean

The Orto di Nemo is an underground greenhouse where researchers and “scuba-diving gardeners” are experimenting with growing food underwater. Tethered twenty feet below the surface of the Mediterranean Sea, “Nemo’s Garden” consists of five underwater pods filled with plants, light, and warm, wet air– the typical constituents of a greenhouse, submerged in a pod on the ocean floor.

According to a report in The Washington Post:

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The balloon-like biospheres take advantage of the sea’s natural properties to grow plants. The underwater temperatures are constant, and the shape of the greenhouses allows for water to constantly evaporate and replenish the plants. What’s more, the high amounts of carbon dioxide act like steroids for the plants, making them grow at very rapid rates.

Ocean Reef Group — a diving equipment company — is monitoring five balloon-like biospheres that house a number of plants, such as basil, lettuce, strawberries and beans. The group has a patent on the structure and plans to build a few more to experiment with other crops, such as mushrooms, which should thrive in the humid environment.

Sergio Gamberini, president of Ocean Reef Group, came up with the “crazy” idea of growing plants under the sea while on a summer vacation in Italy. He immediately made a few calls and started experimenting, sinking the transparent biospheres under the ocean and filling them with air.

The footage below is narrated in Italian, but in it you’ll still see some pretty incredible moments when Gamberini’s team enters the underwater greenhouse and begins gardening among the fishes. It’s unclear at this time what the company’s plans are for expanding this technology to exploit a potentially profitable new sector of agriculture, but this much is clear: the team has successfully grown strawberries at the bottom of the ocean when most of us can’t even get them to flourish on land. For now, the scientists are just enjoying the experiment that is gardening– the fact that they are doing so at the bottom of the ocean only adds to the fun.

A look at the plants the team has successfully grown on the ocean floor:

Watch these scuba-diving scientists “gardening” on the Nemo Project’s underwater platform:

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