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How fresh can oysters get?

In a few years you might be eating seafood straight from Copenhagen’s harbour. We hear from the team behind the plan

  • How fresh can oysters get?
  • How fresh can oysters get?
  • How fresh can oysters get?

One day, you might be able to order oysters from the harbour in central Copenhagen, served straight from the water onto your plate. What was once just an idea from EFFEKT Architects and the Konvers communications firm now looks set to become reality, with new grants in place to produce underwater farms, or “maritime allotments”, in Copenhagen’s harbour ahead of the city’s year as European Green Capital in 2015.

It’s arguably a title Copenhagen already holds, having led the world on everything from urban cycling to locavore eating, renewable energy – and swimming in the famously clean harbour. But the Harbour Farm is something new – a series of 6x6m underwater units in which you can farm oysters, mussels, seaweed and other sea life, attached to a top-end restaurant that doubles as an educational centre.

And if the sea-to-mouth element isn’t green enough for you, it will run on a mix of tidal and geothermal energy, and the Styrofoam boxes used to transport the sea life will be mixed with fish waste to create a light soil to fertilise local rooftop crops. Tiny oyster larvae, or spats, will be imported from Limfjorden (which claims to produce the world’s best) and will take two to three years to grow.

“There’s been a great demand for local produce, but until now the trends have focused on land, with rooftop and window farms,” says EFFEKT ’s Mikkel Bøgh. “But it’s super efficient to grow food in water – the nutrients are right there. The aim is to have the whole story in one place – the production facility and the end user together, openly.”

Not only will diners be able to see their food growing beneath them, but the Copenhagen Technical University’s Aqua Unit will test the water twice a day and publish the results to the public. The oysters and mussels will grow slower than in areas such as Limfjorden, but according to Bøgh the taste will be comparable.

Bøgh and his team are currently doing feasibility studies in the harbour, though he says levels of toxicity are way below those required by law. They plan to have a unit in the water and a visitor’s centre up by this summer, and are speaking with restaurateurs about opening the part of the project that will generate most of the income.

Once it’s all ready to go in a few years, the aim is to spread the idea. “You could do this in harbours across the world,” says Bøgh, who is already in talks with other locations such as the Nordsøen Oceanarium in Hirtshals, in north Jutland. “It’s a huge potential we’re not tapping. We want to change that.”  effekt.dk/oyster


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