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2019 Issue #7/8
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KNOWLEDGE CENTRE

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Saline Agriculture: Growing Salty Tasting Sweet


The Salt Farm Foundation is setting up an information centre in Den Hoorn, Texel with a saline kitchen garden, (‘Zilte Smaaktuin’) to spread awareness among the local farming community and the wider public about the possibilities of saline agriculture. The garden has a variety of halophytes, a salt-tolerant plant that grows in soil or waters of high salinity, like ice plant, sea lavender, Salicornia, sea fennel and sea kale, but also more common food crops like lettuce, beet, radish, garlic, strawberries and cherry tomatoes. Not only do these varieties thrive on brackish water, they also develop a different taste. The public will be able to taste fresh produce and discover it is pure sweetness which meets the tongue. The saline garden will be open to the public on certain days from April to September; at regular intervals cooking demonstrations and tasting sessions will be organised to show how to use its produce in the everyday kitchen. The garden will also be utilised for scientific trials.   

Project Updates - Knowledge Center
Bonaire, Where Salt leads to Soothing
 

As part of our mission we share knowledge with farmers worldwide about saline farming.  On Bonaire we help the farmers use brackish water for growing crops to lower dependency on food imports.  We have also been working on the development of the value chain for Aloe Vera which has potential for exports. Aloe Vera is a succulent plant species of the genus Aloe. An evergreen perennial, it originates from the Arabian Peninsula but grows wild in tropical climates around the world and is cultivated for agricultural and medicinal uses. Aloe Vera is well recognized by its thick, pointed and fleshy green leaves, full of a slimy tissue. This slimy, water-filled tissue is the "gel" which contains most of the bioactive compounds, including vitamins,minerals, amino acids and antioxidants. Since we started the project, the acreage on Bonaire has expanded from 0, 25 to 2 hectare. The Onima Aloe Plantation has produced a range of cosmetic products with Aloe Vera as the main ingredient, facial and night creams and medical ointments, such as first aid, eczema and muscles and joints creams. We will work with them to obtain an organic certificate for the European market. The products are not tested on animals.  

Poor Man’s Asparagus

Once called Fisherman’s Food, this delicacy is becoming a trendy garnish in gourmet restaurants all over Europe. Salicornia can be found on much of the European coastline and sporadically where inland saline waters occur across the continent. Historically, Salicornia has served as a functional food in colder coastal regions of Northern Europe, by providing a high level of vitamins in spring.  In medieval and early post-medieval centuries, Salicornia was gathered and burned in heaps and the ash fused with sand to make glass. As food insecurity looms large, Salicornia’s nutrition sources should not be neglected. Medical research suggests the plant’s benefits make it a healthy alternative for salt.  Holland, France and the UK’s are its top producers in Europe.

Project Updates - Interreg SalFar

Growing Salty Potatoes on Seaweed

Seaweed forms the basis for a promising blue-green economy; providing local, sustainable, healthy new opportunities for the European economy. Seaweed is a worldwide growing market. Little is known about the possible use of seaweed as a fertilizer for saline agriculture. Successful use of seaweed as fertilizer would increase the economic viability of saline cultivation. Therefor the SFF will focus its field trials further on experiments with seaweed as an organic fertilizer. Last year we conducted a field trial with seaweed fertiliser on beetroot, this year the open air lab on Texel has been set up for the growing season to conduct a test with seaweed fertiliser on our salty potatoes. The trial will be carried out by the Louis Bolk Institute in close cooperation with us.

Building a community

Research underway along the North Sea countries and elsewhere in the world illustrates the vast and so far underrated potential of growing food on soils generally qualified as saline. Food production on present and future saline soils deserves the world’s attention in particular because 1) food security is a pressing issue, 2) millions of hectares of degraded soils are available world-wide, 3) fresh water is becoming increasingly scarce, and 4) global sea level rise threatens food production in fertile coastal lowlands. Capitalizing on the vast potential of saline agriculture requires a major interdisciplinary and collaborative research effort to inform effective and supportive policy frameworks and to evaluate the most promising methods for developing saline agriculture in different regions of the globe. The Saline Futures conference is organised by the EU Intereg North Sea partners in the SalFar Project, in particular by the Waddenacademie in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands.  

Our goal is to improve food security, reduce poverty and to provide a solution for the adverse consequences of climate change. 
A challenging goal, for which we need all the support we can get.
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Stichting Salt Farm Foundation · Hoornderweg 42, · Den Hoorn, Texel, NH 1797 RA · Netherlands

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