Sarasota entrepreneur growing mushrooms on top of the ocean
A Sarasota man says he's found the key to sustainable farming — good morels.
Driving the news: Todd Kleperis is growing mushrooms on the waters off Siesta Key in what he calls the OPod.
- The pod launched on the water two weeks ago, and within the next two months he tells Axios his mushrooms will be in high-end Sarasota restaurants, though he won't yet say which ones.
- Hurricane Ian is a prime example of that in Florida, costing the state more than $1 billion in agriculture losses, the University of Florida reported in a new estimate last month. High winds and drenching rains hit our citrus, cattle, vegetable and melon operations the hardest.
Zoom in: Kleperis' pod uses sustainable power and water, reducing costs and environmental impact compared to traditional farming, he says.
How it works: The pod uses a solar-powered generation system that desalinates ocean water to grow mushrooms in a temperature-controlled environment inside a sea-floating chamber.
- Kleperis says he chose mushrooms because they're easiest to grow with a small amount of water, power and space. And they're nutrient-dense.
- Once the mushrooms are harvested, he can replant them in soil inside the pod and start the process all over again.
- In future harvesting cycles, he'd like to expand into leafy greens and other fruits and vegetables.
The intrigue: Kleperis says his pod is the first of its kind to grow food sustainably on the water.
- The closest thing that compares, he says, is a company called Nemo's Garden that's growing food in domes underwater off the coast of Italy.
How it happened: Kleperis founded his company, Tekmara, last year to get the pod project off the ground. He says he built the pod itself over the course of about 5 months in his garage.
What he's saying: Kleperis tells Axios he wants to use the pod not only for sustainable farming, but to raise awareness of the importance of protecting our oceans as a food resource.
- "If we can get out in front of it, we can change a whole industry and radically help populations all around the world," he says.
More Tampa Bay stories
No stories could be found
Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Tampa Bay.