Open Source 3D Ocean Farming Commons?


The effort is few years old, but I only today noticed discussion of a recent article, The Seas Will Save Us: How an Army of Ocean Farmers are Starting an Economic Revolution, which prominently features “open source” and “commons”:

We addressed the first question of farm replication and scale, not by patenting or franchising — those are tools of the old economy — but by open-sourcing our farming model so that anybody with 20 acres and a boat and $30,000 can start his or her own farm.

Instead of repeating history we’re building infrastructure from seed-to-harvest-to-market. We’re starting nonprofit hatcheries so that our farmers can access low-cost seed. We’re creating ocean seed banks so that the Monsantos of the world can’t privatize the source of our food and livelihoods. We cap the price of a sublease at $50 an acre per year so that low-income ocean farmers can access property. But by “property” we do not mean privatization. Our farmers don’t own their patch of ocean; they own only the right to grow shellfish and seaweeds there, which means that anyone can boat, fish, or swim on their farms. I own the process of farming but not the property, and this keeps my farm as shared community space. We’re also building in levers of community control. Leases are up for review every five years so that if I’m farming unsustainably, my rights can be revoked.

If we provide our communities with the right mix of low-cost, open-source infrastructure, our hub will become an engine for job creation and the basis for inventing new industries.

This is the new face of environmentalism. As our food system gets pushed out to sea, we can come together to block privatization, to protect our commons and to spread the seeds of justice. We can invent new occupations, shift entire workforces out of the old economy into the new restorative economy. This is our chance to recruit an army of ocean farmers to grow a new climate cuisine that is both beautiful and hopeful so that all of us can make a living on a living planet.

This sounds great, not least because treating agricultural knowledge as a weapon is one of the ways intellectual property harms security and abets conflict.

I hope Bren Smith (author of the quoted piece above and chief promoter) and his organization Green Wave succeed in using open methods and policy to replicate and scale 3D ocean farming. Skimming the web, I can’t yet discern how much progress they’ve made. and are two places “open source” is mentioned. On latter:

GreenWave is at it’s core open source. Quicker time to market, more reliable & robust solutions are developed when everyone has a hand in it. Open source does not mean that we won’t see economic benefits. As a matter of fact, we believe that an open source approach means more opportunity for everyone involved.

Unfortunately I don’t see any evidence of anything open. Their website footer misses one cheap way to signal they’re genuine and knowledgeable regarding “open source”, an open license. Instead: © 2016 | All Rights Reserved

Smith replies to a comment on the above article:

We’re working on an open source manual that can be the beginning…

They’ve gotten lots of press.

Smith gave a talk in 2013 which seems more or less identical to the recent article above…

…and also in 2013 crowdfunded $37k to “scale up”, noting that “Every component of our model will be open source and available on the web.”

Of course $37k isn’t enough to scale up much of anything. Hopefully they’re obtaining much larger resources and will very soon start actually publishing open source components, or better yet, they’re doing these things already and I failed to notice. “I’m holding my breath” seems apropos.


GreenWave is crowdfunding again, currently raised $94703, surpassing $90000 goal.

At a glance I don’t notice significant changes on their website. The current crowdfunding video says they open sourced ocean farming after the founder built a farm.

I don’t see anything actually open sourced yet, but the concept is still very interesting and I wish them success.


Newsletter (emphasis in original):

In 2017, we will continue to support pioneering ocean farmers and develop core tools and infrastructure. We’re working on an open sourced online manual and mobile hatcheries that can be installed in shipping containers.