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Ocean Permaculture

b2ap3_thumbnail_800px-Oysters_p1040747.jpgI’ve written a bit about land based Permaculture, a food production system that works with Nature instead of against her, and produces a great deal more food per acre than industrial farming. Powerful as this system is, it can only take advantage of part of our planet. Now it seems there are those who are innovating similar techniques in the oceans.

Brenn Smith runs Thimble Island Oyster Company. This is not industrial aquaculture with its unhealthy and badly fed fish. Brenn grows seaweed, scallops and mussels, oysters, and clams using a system he calls 3D ocean farming. The seaweed, mussels and scallops he grows on lines strung under water, while below on the sea bed are oysters and clams. Such farming creates a thriving ecosystems as native species are attracted to the farm because the farm acts as an artificial reef and storm surge barrier. Smith reports more than 150 different species in what was once a barren sea bottom. And it is highly productive. He produces more food on 20 acres of ocean using this system than he used to get from 100 acres.

Kelp absorbs five time more carbon than land based plants and is – like all seaweeds – edible and highly nutritious. It also makes excellent fertilizer and can be used to produce biofuel. Oysters filter nitrogen – the cause of oceanic dead zones – out of water. They also filter out other contaminants at a prodigious rate. So far Thimble island is fairly unique. But like Joel Salatin, Smith is encouraging other fishermen to adopt his methods. Keep your eyes open for other fisherfolk using these Permaculture methods. Our oceans depend on it.

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Selina Rifkin, L.M.T., M.S. is a graduate of Temple University and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. In 1998 she graduated from the Downeast School of Massage in Maine. She has published articles in Massage Therapy Journal, been a health columnist, and published The Referral Guide for Complementary Care, a book that describes 25 different healing modalities. In 2006 she completed her Masters program in Nutrition with a focus on traditional foods, and the work of Weston A. Price.
Currently she is the Executive Assistant to the Director of Cherry Hill Seminary, the first Pagan seminary to offer Master’s degrees.


  • Soli
    Soli Wednesday, 26 November 2014

    He's local to me! I've heard about their "CSA" and if I felt safe shucking oysters I'd sign up in a minute.

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