An hour’s drive from Genoa in northwestern Italy, off the coast of the picturesque village of Noli, nine transparent plastic bubbles appear to hover underwater—their trapped air fragrant with the scent of herbs.
The installation, known as Nemo’s Garden, is an experiment meant to test the viability of underwater greenhouses. The submerged “biospheres” consist of plastic domes rigged up with hydroponic equipment, plant seeds, and air-circulating fans. Each dome is like “a miniature space station,” says Sergio Gamberini, the inventor of Nemo’s Garden and the CEO of Ocean Reef, a U.S.-Italian company that primarily makes scuba diving equipment.
Gamberini’s hope is to help arid coastal countries grow more food without the costly need to desalinate water for crops. His unconventional approach has