An algae microfarm movement is underway and it is beginning in France. This past month, I visited some of these microfarms, meeting with the pioneers and algae entrepreneurs. - Robert Henrikson
In 2002, I visited one of the very first algae microfarms in the South of France, Philippe Calamand's Spiruline La Capitelle. From two greenhouse ponds, he produced about thirty 100 gram packages per day for four months in the summer. Local demand for his products has exceeded capacity every year. Over one decade, 100 growers have sprung up from Southern France to as far north as Normandy. In 2004 a spirulina algae school was established at the CFFPA Center in Hyeres, engaging more people to join this community.
Robert and Emmanuel at the Spiru-Vie farm in Ganges.
View from inside a spirulina pond greenhouse. Spiru-Vie products.
These algae entrepreneurs have been inspired by the decades of work by Ripley and Denise Fox developing appropriate tech village growing systems in Africa, Asia and South America and by Jean-Paul Jourdan and his work in Africa. Jean-Paul has been a teacher at the spirulina school and wrote the manual for small scale cultivation: "Cultivez Votre Spiruline" or "Grow Your Own Spirulina".
Federation des Spiruliniers meeting at the home of Ripley and Denise Fox in LaRoque. Fresh spirulina paste, made into Aquamole by Taromé.
In 2010, most of the growers joined the Fédération des Spiruliniers de France, taking important steps towards developing quality control standards, best business practices and organic production.
Boris operates Ferme de la Borie, high in the mountains above LaSalle.
The challenges and opportunities faced by the French microfarmers are universal and can apply to any region of the globe. The algae microfarm movement in France has already spread to Spain.
Laurent at Eco Domaine farm in Normandy. With Laurent, Gilles, Jean-Paul Jourdan and farm staff. Fresh spirulina dip served at lunch.
Parallel to the huge scale algae production envisioned by the algae biofuel industry, small scale algae production represents a democratization of the algae industry, and a sustainable business opportunity for entrepreneurs and people around the world.