Country View: Brendan Smith - Thimble Island Oyster Co. - Long Island Sound, CT | Living the Country Life

Country View: Brendan Smith - Thimble Island Oyster Co. - Long Island Sound, CT

Brendan has created the first 3D ocean farm
Photo courtesy of Thimble Island Oyster Co.

Brendan Smith of Long Island Sound, Connecticut fell in love with the ocean at an early age. At age 14, he left school and started working on a fishing boat. In 2011, he founded the Thimble Island Oyster Company, a sustainable business raising oysters, mussels, scallops, and kelp.

Brendan uses vertical farming methods on his 40 acres of ocean land. Caged columns are attached to buoys on the ocean floor and house oysters, kelp, scallops, and mussels. The habitats are beneficial to many other species because they're artificial reefs, attracting different species to the area. The oysters act as water filters, with each one filtering up to 50 gallons of water per day.

Brendan and his team do more than raise seafood. This ocean farm is the nucleus of an effort called Project Green Wave.

"So, it’s food production, eco-system restoration, and then growing the green economy and education," says Brendan. "We work with inner city kids and train them to cook and process our seaweed, they run a fish market, they learn about ocean farming because we can’t just improve the environment. We’ve got to fix the economy and create jobs in the process."

Another aspect of Project Green Wave is to cultivate kelp for biofuel production.

"We’re working with small companies, some engineers, and some non-profits to develop a biofuel program here off the farm. The Department of Energy did a study and they figured out that growing kelp, you could create 2,000 gallons of biofuel per acre on a farm," says Brendan. "They figured out that if you took an area half the size of Maine, you could replace all of the oil in the United States."

He says the promise of growing alternative energy in local waters may well be on its way to becoming a reality.

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