Growing Food

Diving deep into ocean farming,with Joost Wouters of the Seaweed Company

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Over the last month, I’ve been focusing on interviews with people who are pioneering the repair and regeneration of the water cycle as it pertains to landscapes. We’ve explored the installation of ponds and dams, permaculture earthworks and water retention landscapes as well as keyline design and planting the rain in drylands. These are all great interventions at the beginning of the water cycle’s journey, but today I want to start a deeper dive, literally, by going to the furthest point downstream, where water enters the ocean. 

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Marine ecosystems are much less understood by the general public for a variety of reasons, but our actions on land have a direct effect on the health of our oceans too. Luckily there are incredible teams of people looking to address these issues with promising new solutions and over the next couple of episodes I’ll be highlighting a few of them. 

To get things started I spoke to Joost Wouters, an entrepreneur, speaker, author and the ‘Sea’EO of the Seaweed Company. I got to know Joost first as a co-instructor with me on the Ecosystem restoration design course through Gaia Education. I was fascinated with his presentation and the compelling data on the potential regenerative effects that seaweed and kelp can have in bringing back the health of coastal areas. In his role with the Seaweed Company, he and his team aim to implement CO2-reducing seaweed-based business models at large scale.

It turns out that seaweed is the fastest growing biomass in the world. Seaweed farming itself, if done responsibly, has the power to address many of the ecological challenges we face today, without the use of land, fertilizer, or freshwater. It reduces ocean acidification, promotes marine biodiversity, and even absorbs vast quantities of CO2 from the atmosphere.

Seaweed can also create highly valuable end products. It is a nutritious food source for both people and animals and can be used as an environmentally friendly alternative to petroleum-based fertilisers and plastics. At the moment it’s a unique untapped resource, and the goal of the Seaweed Company is to unlock the potential of this wondrous resource to benefit both people and the planet.

In this episode Joost starts by explaining some of the urgent issues facing marine environments and how seaweed farming can help to address them. We go over the advantages that growing seaweed has over terrestrial agriculture, the high value products that can be made from different types of seaweed, the many pilot projects around the world that his company has helped to start and much more. 

Towards the end we also examine the roadblocks that are holding this solution back from being more widely adopted and how those of you listening can learn more and get involved. 

I’ve personally been learning a lot about marine ecosystems through these interviews and truly hope that a greater awareness will begin to be built around just how essential the health of our oceans is to the health of all life, even to ecosystems that are far inland and away from any saltwater. I’m really excited for this and the next few episodes for this reason.


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