Bren Smith is a commercial fisherman turned restorative ocean farmer who wants the world to “eat like a fish.”
He describes his journey from commercial fisherman to restorative ocean farmer as a “story of ecological redemption.”
His journey for sustainability took him to Long Island Sound, a tidal estuary lying between Connecticut and Long Island, New York, where there was a program to lease shellfishing grounds to young commercial fishermen under 40.
“I leased 20 acres, started harvesting oysters and then slowly, with many experiments and failures, transitioned the farm into one of the first 3D ocean farms in the country,” he told the publication Future of Fish.
He established Thimble Island Ocean Farm in 2003.
Instead of depleting the resources of the ocean, 3D farms restore them.
In 2014, Smith founded Greenwave alongside Emily Stengel, who has a background in sustainable food systems.
The non-profit describes itself as a new generation of ocean farmers feeding the planet and building a blue-green economy in the era of climate change.
GreenWave’s polyculture vertical 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.
Seaweed and kelp soak up 5x more carbon from the water than land-based plants do from the air.
Greenwave’s farms sit below the surface and leverage the entire water column, so they produce high yields with a small footprint.
Their crops are used as food, fertilizer, animal feed and more.
Additionally, Greenwave helps underemployed fishermen make a living by encouraging them to farm kelp sustainably. A safer bet than the ocean’s depleting fish stocks.
Smith is a fierce advocate for kelp as a sustainable source of food.
It has recently become a superfood trend down to it being full of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, amino acids, omega-3 fats and fibre. It also includes zinc, magnesium, iron, potassium, copper, and calcium.
In 2019, the innovative fisherman published Eat Like a Fish: My Adventures as a Fisherman Turned Restorative Ocean Farmer — part memoir, part manifesto with a few kelp recipes thrown into the mix.
Bren Smith was named one of Rolling Stone magazine’s “25 People Shaping the Future” and featured in TIME magazine’s “Best Inventions of 2017.”
Tags: agriculture, AgriTech, kelp, Ocean Conservation, Oceans, seaweed, Sustainable Agriculture