20 votes

Community Supported Seawater Greenhouse!

Dear Fellow Liberty Lovers,

Below is a copy of a fundraiser I just started; let me know what you guys think!

http://www.gofundme.com/SeawaterGreenhouseCSA

Seawater Greenhouse in United Arab Emirates

This fundraiser is for building a Community Supported Seawater Greenhouse in an arid coastal desert. Basically the idea is similar to a CSA or Community Supported Agriculture program, except the main difference being that instead of a traditional farm this will be formed around a Seawater Greenhouse. The idea is also unique in that its main purpose is charitable; it is intended to help impoverished people living in an arid coastal desert by enabling them to work in the greenhouse in exchange for a share of its produce, i.e. pure fresh water and organic food.

The Community Supported Seawater Greenhouse will be designed to be economically sustainable so that all operating costs are paid for by sales of the produce; any profits that are subsequently generated will be shared by the members and reinvested to maintain, expand, and ultimately build more Community Supported Seawater Greenhouses in a self replicating fashion.

When this fundraiser meets its goal it will be more than enough to build a Seawater Greenhouse roughly the size of the one in the picture above, or about 800 square meters or so, below is an image of the organic produce that is currently being grown there.

Produce From Seawater Greenhouse in United Arab Emirates

Here is a diagram of how it works:

Seawater Greenhouse Diagram

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
deacon's picture

Very interesting

Thank you for the post
D

If we deny truth before your very eyes,then the rest of what we have to say,is of little consequence

You are welcome!

Have you chosen a site?

This fundraiser is for building a Community Supported Seawater Greenhouse in an arid coastal desert.

Have you chosen a site?

No I have not yet chosen a site

But one idea could be Kyrgyzstan, my brother works for the Foreign Service and is stationed there right now; we have discussed the possibility of making a seawater greenhouse near the large salt lake Issyk Kul in the past. It is a very arid desert and freshwater is quite scarce there so it could be a good location for it.

How about Utah?

You could use Salt Lake.

Issyk sounds kul! ;) no wait, I mean... :D

I realize this suggestion might not fit tightly into currently held mission statements, but have you considered or even though of doing it off the bay in Newark?

There are some reasons why Newark doesn't make sense

For one thing land is extremely expensive on the bay. It is also not an arid desert. The main benefit of the seawater greenhouse is that it provides a critical source of freshwater and the ability to grow food in times and places where it would otherwise be impossible not to mention you can build it on dirt cheap saline intruded land that no one wants. Also I'm not so sure it would even make sense to cool and humidify crops in this climate given that it is not extremely hot and dry.

Hey everyone

I have come across this technology before, as well as the permaculture approaches like the one that shrader has linked below. How ever... there is another understanding which I came across recently which is possibly even more accessible than any of these which is presented here :

http://www.ted.com/talks/allan_savory_how_to_green_the_world...

I can't understand why this is largely overlooked, I personally think it should be one of the major considerations of the day on a par with the attention we give global warming, for indeed it proposes a solution to many of our worlds current problems.

Freedom is a byproduct of acceptance - judge not.

a critique of Allan Savory

http://www.slate.com/articles/life/food/2013/04/allan_savory...

I don't know who is right, but you should read what the critics say.

BTW, the author of this article is, I think, some kind of nutty vegetarian, so take it with a grain of salt.

“Although it was the middle of winter, I finally realized that, within me, summer was inextinguishable.” — Albert Camus

Sounds like fanaticism to me

I'm a 20 year vegan because I care about animals, but I don't condemn anyone else for not choosing to be the same. Some vegans seem to take the moral high ground, and I think this extreme distorts their understanding of balance and practicality.

If the right cattle management restores the natural environment ( i.e animal life ), how could you justify condemning it for the sake of animal rights ?

Freedom is a byproduct of acceptance - judge not.

grain of salt (with corn flakes)

After poking around into the larger body of work by James McWilliams [Slate article's author], it's clear that he's an extreme anti-meat vegetarian. As such, he is 100% anti-grazing. He subtly misrepresents the authors of the "Charter Grazing Trials" paper as he tries to align their conclusions with his own views. The paper's authors simply conclude that the [45 year old!] trails showed no evidence of Savory's [initial!] methods being more beneficial than other grazing methods. Throughout the study the authors hold the view that grazing is beneficial. That view is unchanged in their conclusion. Here's an interesting quote from the paper that McWilliams was unlikely to include in his article...

"The control pastures were burned while the short-duration pastures were not. It seems to us that more grazing would have been the best way to reduce the excessive vegetation accumulation on the control pastures."

Those authors would likely roll their eyes at the last sentence in the article by McWilliams...

"In the meantime, the evidence continues to suggest what we have long known: There’s no such thing as a beef-eating environmentalist."

and the text following that concluding sentence...

"Slate’s coverage of food systems is made possible in part by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation." ;D

This deserves its own topic thread.

Really. I watched the TED video you linked about desertification and how by simply planning herded grazing to mimic nature, arid land can be turned fertile!

The result is, lands that would have become worthless to locals or to family landowners NOW BECOMES FERTILE and productive. If your family owns land that is on the brink of becoming desert, that is a very sad future for the children of that family; those children are inline to inherit garbage land; but not with this process!

This is amazing. Thanks for sharing.

we can use holistic management practices in concert

Synergies can be made between holistic management of livestock and the seawater greenhouse I would say that they aren't mutually exclusive. It may not even be possible to graze animals in certain saline intruded areas until the greenhouse establishes a water source and enough vegetation to support them for example. One might also imagine animals providing fertilizer and soil amendment for the crops inside the greenhouse in the form of composted manure.

Oh by all means

I am fully in favour of implementing any and all sustainable technologies.. I just posted this one because it seems soo powerful and yet also accessible to everyone.

Freedom is a byproduct of acceptance - judge not.

It would be better to think

about how to reclaim the desert. The middle east used to be the fertile crescent. It was productive. It became desert through agricultural practice, the same agriculture that is depleting our continent in the present day. The cedars of lebanon were the redwoods of the middle east. It used to be green.

Reclaiming the land, and restoring a moisture retaining soil, would be a better approach than creating artificial fertility in indoor environments, and it would be less energy intensive.

It can be done. Here's an example.

Greening the Desert
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sohI6vnWZmk

"It became desert through

"It became desert through agricultural practice"

Yup, that is quite likely, but to this day the "over-grazed" component gets far too much credit. It's impossible to determine to what degree over-grazing [if at all] fits into the scheme of historical depletion when active deforestation, urbanization, and large scale tilling and chemical application are yet given enough credit. Look at the Amazon basin today. Sure, its been transformed largely to make room to graze Burger King beef cattle, but it's not the grazing of cattle that's doing the damage. It's the deforestation and tilling of soil in preparation for the cattle that initiates the damage.

this certainly belongs on this page...

^full length... http://vimeo.com/28055108

Thanks.

I'm watching the full version now.

Back to give a 5 star review.

Beautiful film. Worth watching merely for the photography, but very useful info also.

Perhaps you didn't consider the fact that this technology can

Perhaps you didn't consider the fact that this technology can in fact reclaim the desert. It actually puts water back into the aquifer. In Tenerife where they built the first one, it was all saline intruded land and nothing grew there due to thousands of years of agriculture pulling water from the aquifer. After they started the greenhouse up all the sudden native vegetation began sprouting up around it. There is a group planning to use this technology to reforest the Sahara Desert. Check it out Sahara Forest Project. Nothing against what the guy in your video is doing, obviously it is great. But by the same token there is nothing wrong with using a seawater greenhouse to create an ideal cool humid environment for growing crops so that they require only a tenth of the water used in open air agriculture while at the same time generating excess freshwater and refilling the aquifer using only the energy of the sun and the wind. By the way the seawater greenhouse doesn't use any pesticides, this is one of the big benefits of this system over traditional greenhouses that use lots of dangerous pesticides. The saltwater evaporators naturally keep the pests out without the need for spraying synthetic chemicals.

Apologies, I didn't intend to be

negative or confrontational.

Very interesting projects.

no worries

I hope I didn't come off too harsh! I did enjoy the video you linked to I think people need to think about this type of thing as our agricultural practices are currently like scorched earth. If you like that you may also be interested in http://www.ted.com/talks/allan_savory_how_to_green_the_world... this man has some key insight into why desertification has happened and it has a lot to do with the way we manage livestock.

Yes, managing grasses

together with livestock can jump start succession. It's interesting that succession starts to happen around the saltwater greenhouses.

I just discovered sustainable ag people in the U.S. have been using Allan Savory's grazing systems (Holistic Resource Management) for many years. I'm going to see if anyone local is using it.

No saltwater nearby!

Yes, as GCN3030 implies a few comments up...

These various methods are not only not mutually exclusive but also likely to be mutually beneficial.

True

I may have given the wrong impression. They represent different ways of thinking, but they can be used together. Building greenhouses, with plumbing and ventilation, a desalination plant, has an industrial component, but is very creative, especially if you have seawater (Water everywhere, and not a drop to drink.) and capital.

Reading the landscape, keylining or swaling to retain water, planting and grazing to advance the succession of a biome (the natural development of an ecosystem over time), aggrading soil (opposite of degrading), is a different endeavor.

But a seawater greenhouse, even row cropping, can be compatible, and perhaps provides necessary profit, if one is pursuing a productive, natural ecosystem for human food, with permaculture and/or holistic resource management.

Wrong impression? Perhaps it

Wrong impression? Perhaps it was your first sentence, "It would be better to think... about how to reclaim the desert." The OP and the Savory link are also about reclaiming the desert. In essence they all represent similar ways of thinking, different ways of doing, different dishes contributing to the same pot luck meal. Not that it matters, but your dish was the first on my plate. Yours was the first link I clicked and watched on this entire page, an excellent contribution I must say, hearty and delicious! :d The "better to think" heading atop your comment shown like a sign shamelessly posting, "Topped with unpasteurized cheese! - better to try me! - yum yum!" It was yummy, but I'm happy to have not overindulged and to have saved room for the wild rice hot dish and potato salad. :D You and I apparently have similar tastes, but some others prefer and will first make a bee line for the potato salad, others will initially reach to work on hot dish. The diverse approach conveniently spreads us around the table and further promotes continued collaboration. "Hey, have you tried the green bean casserole yet? How is it? Does it have mushrooms? Yes, I mean fungus, but it's really good!."

That's right on

I would love to see more details on this, Thanks for posting.

More details on what specifically?

On the technology? Here is a video with the guy who came up with the concept:

http://www.bloomberg.com/video/using-seawater-to-farm-in-the...

Here are slides from a lecture he gave on the subject:

http://www.idaea.csic.es/innova-med/agadir%20lectures/paton.pdf

So the salt water is desalinated by evaporation?

If this in fact works it's a game changer, thanks.

It definitely does in fact work here is a company that has one

This company operates the first commercial seawater greenhouse and it is currently producing tomatoes in Australia:

http://www.sundropfarms.com/

Yes but evaporation desalination is nothing new

The new idea is to use the humidification dehumidification process to create a cool humid environment for growing crops that makes it so that they use 80-90% less water thus making the desalination economical because you end up producing more food with less energy even though it would be more inefficient than other desalination methods based on a pure energy in/water out analysis. This is basically a more holistic approach that reduces our need for fresh water by producing more food with less water, so much less that the greenhouse becomes a net producer of freshwater above and beyond what it needs to grow crops. Others have taken this idea even further and are incorporating aquaculture and algae production as well check out http://saharaforestproject.com/.