There’s a vegetable garden off the coast of Italy, and it’s growing under the sea

A few years ago, Italian farmer Luca Gamberini began pondering what it would take to grow perfect garden vegetables. He already knew that plants need constant temperatures, as well as water, light, and protection from harmful external elements. But since it can be difficult to recreate these conditions outdoors all year long, or even at all, Gamberini needed an alternative that could provide a more stable growing environment.

His solution? Underwater greenhouses.

It sounds odd at first, but submerged growhouses offer near-perfect growing conditions For starters, there’s definitely enough H20 for plant vitality, but there’s also a consistent, stable temperature; and light from the sun penetrates the ocean’s surface to provide a steady light source. On top of that, because the garden is underwater, plant life is protected from parasites and other terrestrial dangers.

So, Gamberini and his father decided to try it out. Now they’re growing all kinds of plants, including strawberries and basil, under the sea, in a garden they call Nemo’s Garden.

How exactly are they doing this? They’re planting seeds in a biosphere –an air-filled bubble enclosure– and sending them straight under the water. The father-son duo is tracking changes in oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in real-time with live streaming capabilities. (Live streaming of Nemo’s Garden is available to anyone who wants to check it out.)

Here’s the thing – it’s not just a concept. The Gamberinis have been growing underwater crops successfully for a few years now, and have started their own organization called the Ocean Reef Group. What started off as a family-run scuba gear business is now turning into an underwater produce farm.

Right now, Ocean Reef Group has five underwater biospheres in action. Some of the plants they’re growing include basil, beans and strawberries. Next up on the list is mushroom harvesting.

Eventually, the family-run company hopes that its new farming methods will be able to reduce damage to the environment, and in the future, even help underdeveloped countries grow crops, Gamberini told the Washington Post.

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