Skip to content
Made in Italy
Navigation menu
Nemo's Garden - Made in Italy

Tomorrow’s agriculture: underwater is better

Nemo’s Garden is a pioneering project that enables the underwater cultivation of land plants using a hydroponic system that allows plants to grow several metres below sea level.

reading time4 minutes

Urban vegetable gardens are becoming increasingly popular: on terraces, roofs or even balconies, more and more people are putting their green fingers to the test with tomatoes, courgettes, peppers and more… The underwater vegetable garden is far less well-known and easy to imitate. Yet, it is a 100% Made in Italy project, created by Ligurian engineer and entrepreneur Sergio Gamberini.

Nemo’s Garden – this is the project’s name – is the first underwater cultivation of earth plants, an exceptional example of innovation in agriculture with an underwater hydroponics system capable of growing a plant several metres below sea level.

It all began with basil

It all stems from Gamberini’s desire to innovate and his passion for diving and gardening. Founder and president of OCEAN REEF, a leading group in the production of diving equipment, in 2012, he decided with his team to experiment with the underwater cultivation of basil, the main ingredient of Ligurian pesto. A challenge met. He places transparent biospheres 6 metres below the sea’s surface and fills them with air. Thanks to the thermal stability, basil seeds germinate in only 36 to 48 hours, even earlier than those grown in soil. Just off the Ligurian coast, Gamberini, therefore, built a system of underwater biospheres to test the possibilities of this very peculiar type of hydroponic cultivation. Soon, the biospheres become nine, and the only energy they need – to keep the air temperature stable – is provided by a series of photovoltaic panels anchored to some buoys.

Goodbye pesticides

Growing vegetables in a fully protected environment with a stable temperature can show several advantages, including, for example, the solution to pesticide-related issues. Plants growing in a protected environment do not suffer from pests. It could also be a valuable tool for fighting climate change and improving water management. Underwater cultivation only needs a water source to start plant growth, so the system could also prove helpful where water resources are scarce.

Future Developments

Undoubtedly, this is the result of ‘out of the box’ thinking. Several aspects are still being studied, including, for example, the possibility of producing fertiliser from algae and the types of plants that can benefit from this type of cultivation. Currently, tomatoes, beans, peas, herbs and even flowers are being grown.

National Geographic also reported on this futuristic project, and photographer Luca Locatelli took a series of striking images.

Will aquaculture be the future of agriculture? The beginnings look promising!

Congratulations to those who study, experiment and bring the passion for Made in Italy sustainability to the world.

Discover other outstanding Made in Italy achievements from Liguria.