Volume 17, No.3, Fall 1999

Growing Cold

On the island of Hawaii, cold water pumped from 2,000 feet beneath the ocean’s surface is creating ideal conditions for agriculture and ocean farming. In 1974, the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii began research into cold water technology. Now that technology is being put to commercial use growing organic vegetables, flowers, clams, and oysters.

The water, which is 43 degrees Fahrenheit, is circulated in pipes close to the roots of the plants. The combination of cool roots and hot Hawaiian sunshine makes delicate roses bloom and creates tasty artichokes and Brussels sprouts. The system also eliminates the need for irrigation as the cold pipes draw moisture from the air creating condensation that waters the gardens.

Two Washington seafood companies are also taking advantage of this unique combination of renewable resources by giving millions of clam and oyster larvae a head start on life. The tiny specks thrive on the constant water temperature and the rich supply of algae from the ocean depths. If raised in the Northwest, they would require expensive artificial light and heated water to maintain the ideal stable temperature. Once they grow to the size of a pencil eraser, they are shipped back to Washington to "set" in Northwest waters.

The use of cold water as a renewable resource is growing, but limited by the need to be close to a source.

Los Angeles Times

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