This post was written by Jeremy Evans, a doctoral student at the University of Brighton. It presents a summary of a proposal to develop a participatory seaweed garden and reef on a coastal site in West Sussex. You can read more about Jeremy’s interests and research here.
Proposal for a Participatory Seaweed Garden and Reef
Responding to the coastal pressures of rising sea levels, population increase, food sovereignty need and lack of access to marine nature, this project proposes to develop a participatory designed three dimensional dive garden near to Brighton. This is situated in the framework of continuous productive urban landscapes (Viljoen, 2012). Anchored by a sculpture reef, the sea garden will allow for the growth of seaweed for community food sovereignty and security (Desmariais, 2012). The evolving sculptural aspects of the reef, facilitated by natural processes, will develop biodiversity and habitats for marine life. Co design of reef aspects will allow for a sense of community ownership of the project, as well as emotionally durable design (Chapman, 2006).
The programme will explore the cultural ecosystem services of knowledge in regard to community learning systems and the seaweed habitat, mending the metabolic rift between society and nature (Schneider and McMicheal, 2011).
Additionally it aims to propagate edible species as palmara palmata and sacharina latissima, which would be seeded within ropes. These ropes would float on the surface, attached to buoys, themselves chained below to the artificial reef.
The ecological benefits would see the creation of spawning and breeding site for different species, as well as evasion spaces and feeding.
Close Community links will bring socio economic benefits, employment and healthy food. Furthermore organised in a non hierarchical cooperative fashion, the harvesting benefits will allow for the project to be self supporting long term.
Through continued interaction with the marine environment through kayaking, diving, and boat access those involved will gain benefits to a sense of wellbeing, as well as new identities as participatory dive gardeners of the benthos and the water column.