US (FL): Sarasota entrepreneur growing mushrooms on top of the ocean

A Sarasota man says he's found the key to sustainable farming — good morels. Todd Kleperis is growing mushrooms on the waters of Siesta Key in what he calls the OPod.

The pod launched on the water two weeks ago, and within the next two months, he tells Axios his mushrooms will be in high-end Sarasota restaurants, though he won't yet say which ones.

State of play: The pod is a form of ag-tech similar to indoor vertical farming efforts like Brick Street Farms in St. Petersburg. Kleperis' pod uses sustainable power and water, reducing costs and environmental impact compared to traditional farming, he says.

The pod uses a solar-powered generation system that desalinates ocean water to grow mushrooms in a temperature-controlled environment inside a sea-floating chamber. Kleperis says he chose mushrooms because they're easiest to grow with a small amount of water, power, and space. And they're nutrient-dense. Once the mushrooms are harvested, he can replant them in the soil inside the pod and start the process all over again. In future harvesting cycles, he'd like to expand into leafy greens and other fruits and vegetables.


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