eTown Interview – Bren Smith – Restorative 3D Ocean Farming

Bren Smith - Sustainable Kelp Farming - eTown

Bren Smith, owner of Thimble Island Ocean Farm and GreenWave Executive Director, pioneered the development of restorative 3D ocean farming. A lifelong commercial fisherman, his work has been profiled by CNNThe New Yorker, NPRBon Appetit, National Geographic Television’s Future of Food series, and the Wall Street Journal. His writing has appeared in the New York TimesNational Geographic and The Atlantic.

Called a “visionary” by Barton Seaver, Director of Harvard’s Healthy and Sustainable Food Program, Bren’s farming model is designed to restore ocean ecosystems, mitigate climate change, and create blue-green jobs for fishermen — while ensuring healthy, local food for communities. In 2015 he was awarded the Buckminster Fuller Prize for ecological design. In 2013, Smith was chosen as one of six “Ocean Heroes” by Oceana and Future of Fish’s “Ocean Entrepreneur” of the year. He is an Ashoka Fellow and Echoing Green Climate Fellow.

After dropping out of school at the age of 14, Smith worked a wide array of jobs in the commercial fisheries, ranging from longlining for McDonald’s on the Bering Sea and “sliming” in the canneries of Bristol Bay, Alaska to lobstering in Lynn, Massachusetts and aquaculture farming in Newfoundland, Canada. After years of exploration and experimentation with new restorative forms of ocean farming, he transformed himself in the nation’s first 3D ocean farmer.

Bren work has extended into the nexus between climate change, food production and the emerging new economy. In 2013, Bren was awarded EchoingGreen’s Climate fellowship, designed for next-generation social entrepreneurs committed to working on innovations in mitigation and adaptation to climate change. In 2012 Smith was asked to join the Young Climate Leaders Network, a program supporting 25 young “innovative leaders and visionaries, including many who operate largely outside of the traditional environmental community. Most recently Bren traveled by boat with CNN to the People’s Climate March in New York City to join fishermen and farmers on the front lines of the climate crisis.