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Bren Smith on the Front Line of the Crisis

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CNN Columnist John D. Sutter joined 2014 Echoing Green Climate Fellow Bren Smith on his eighty-four mile journey from his ocean farm in Connecticut to Manhattan—in his 1983 workboat—to participate in this past weekend’s People’s Climate March. The feature video and editorial chronicling the trip reveal why Bren is so passionate about his work, and why he sees climate change as everyone’s issue:

Three days after Sandy hit, he told me, he got online and started researching alternative methods of oyster cultivation—and new crops to “farm” in the ocean. He came upon the work of Charles Yarish, a professor at the University of Connecticut who studies seaweed cultivation. Yarish helped Bren devise a system, Bren told me, to grow kelp underwater in vertical columns, attached to buoys on the surface.

He calls the result a “3-D ocean farm”—almost invisible from the surface, but capable of producing 10 tons of seaweed per acre per year, along with oysters, clams and mussels, some of which attach themselves to the towers of kelp. This vertical farming method might help prevent his entire operation from being wiped out if another storm swept through, pushing mud across the floor of Long Island Sound.

As part of a nonprofit called GreenWave, he’s trying to help spread this idea to other “ocean farmers” by open-sourcing the model and teaching what he knows.

Read the full editorial on

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