For the full article on GreenWave, which was selected from a pool of 400 entries representing work being done in 136 countries for a $100,000 award, see:
Prior to starting GreenWave, Smith worked a variety of commercial fishing jobs “all over the globe”, including long lining for McDonald’s in the Bering Sea and “sliming” in Alaska canneries. In his work, he admits “ripping up entire ecosystems”, fishing illegally in protected water and throwing “thousands of pounds of dead by-catch back into the sea”.
He then turned to aquaculture farming in Canada as a more sustainable occupation. “Aquaculture was supposed to be the great answer to overfishing, ” Smith said during a TEDx Talk in Bermuda. “It turned out to be just as destructive, using new technologies, chocking fish full of medicine, antibiotics, polluting local waterways – just for a terrible tasting, low-quality food.”
He told the Guardian it wasn’t until hurricanes Irene and Sandy that he really started to think of new ways to address some of the problems we face, including overfishing and climate change, growing new sources of fuel and capturing carbon and nitrogen.
“When two hurricanes in a row wiped out my oysters and dragged my gear out to sea, it was clear to me this is the new normal,” he said. “So, I really had to adapt.”
Each of Smith’s model farms includes hurricane-proof anchors on the edges. Within its boundaries, seaweed, mussels and scallops hang from floating ropes. Oysters grow in cages below the ropes, and cages of clams hang beneath them. GreenWave farms also harvest salt.
Kelp soaks up five times as much carbon as land-based plants while oysters filter 50 gallons of water a day, pulling out nitrogen, according to Smith. He also said GreenWave is capable of producing 30 times more biofuel than soybeans and five times more biofuel than corn – without polluting the food chain.
“I think it allows us to take the crisis of climate change and flip it into an opportunity to really innovate in sustainable ways,” he said. “Anybody with 20 acres, a boat and $30,000 can start a farm and be up and running within a year.”
GreenWave provides new farmers with grants, low-cost seed, free outdoor gear from Patagonia and training for two years. And they guarantee to purchase 80% of crops over five years at triple the market rate. The crops are then sold to restaurants around the country.
“It’s a stunning, relatively simple, fully-integrated strategy,” Thompson said. “Implemented at scale, it will have an enormous impact.”