Algae, the original life form on this planet, combined with new methods of cultivation, offers humanity the next productive food solution at this moment in history. Some envision huge centralized algae farms that will produce food and energy on a vast scale. With emerging technology, others envision a distributed model of smaller networked family and community algae microfarms, growing algae for valuable food and biomedicines for the nearby region.
Local food production avoids the increasing cost of transportation fuels and redistributes profits currently extracted by remote corporations all along the value chain in the multi-level food distribution system. A higher portion of the value of food sold is returned to producers, rewarding them and creating greater income equality and self-sufficiency, for a more just and stable social fabric.
Over the past 30 years, many people have asked how they can grow algae themselves, in their own back yard. In fact, small-scale algae farming has been tested for 30 years all over the world.
One example comes from France where a cooperative of 50 spirulina algae microfarmers support each other's success. They have created a school curriculum for growing algae. Growers produce their own products and selling directly in their community and local region.
Soon, remote sensing devices linked with cell phone apps may assist basic functions of algae culture monitoring and diagnosis. This will allow local algae growers to consult with remote algae experts on how to maintain a healthy culture in their small production systems.
Growing food in cities and urban areas may become critical as fuel costs rise, making transported food increasingly expensive. On a small land area, a community could meet a portion of its food requirements from microalgae, freeing cropland for community recreation or reforestation.
Unlike plans for algae biofuels that require mega farms, algae foods can be produced on a small scale. As new technologies and systems design arrive, algae microfarming will be less costly. Progress will make growing easier and more accessible for more people around the world. Ecological communities can combine algae production with aquaculture and organic community gardens.
Microscopic algae are essential for individual and planetary health and restoration. It represents a return to the origins of life. Algae offers us a new paradigm for abundance and security.