US (SC): "Seawater doesn’t just have to be a problem; it can be a resource,”

Charleston-based Heron Farms, an indoor saltwater farm, is capitalizing on the cultivation of sea beans, while combating the environmental impacts of seawater rise. 

Sea beans, a nutrient-packed succulent usually found in saltwater marshes, are seeing growing demand as they gain recognition, especially in the retail and restaurant world. 

Heron Farms wants to market this as a healthier salt alternative, as opposed to more than 90% of salts sold across the world that were found to contain microplastics, according to a 2018 study from the Environmental Science & Technology scientific journal. The highest levels were found in sea salts. 

From ocean to dinner plate
Norton grew up on Isle of Palms. He, like many others living in coastal South Carolina, recognized the growing issue of seawater intrusion and regional flooding.

“What motivates me is that seawater doesn’t just have to be a problem; it can be a resource,” Norton said. “The reason why this plant has been so widely funded and researched over the last decade is that we’re realizing that 90% of the saltwater on the planet is actually usable for agriculture if we domesticate these types of plants called halophytes.” Heron Farms uses seawater with a salinity of 30 parts per 1,000 — a little less salty than the Atlantic Ocean. 

Read the complete article at Charleston Business Journal


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