The Tidal Garden is a community seed bank and nursery infrastructure based in Venice that supports the emergence of new food habits in times of rising sea level.More frequent and unpredictable tides, higher seas and erratic precipitation are altering the agricultural landscape in and around the Venetian Lagoon, with rising cropland soil salinity pushing once common crops out of production. The loss of key foods and ingredients, the lack of jobs for farmers and growing property speculation by the tourism industry are just some of the risks posed by this environmental shift.
But what is a problematic condition for some plants provides an opportunity for others. Glasswort and other halophiles grow spontaneously on the salty soil of coastal agricultural land.
Literally “salt-loving plants”, these species are endemic of the Lagoon and have already contributed to the prosperity of Venice and other lagunar towns before being obliterated from the local culture. Now inhabiting saltmarshes and abandoned farmlands, halophiles are environmental pioneers that hold the potential to renegotiate farming and food consumption in the Venetian Lagoon within a new tidal condition.
The Tidal Garden builds on pre-existing farming infrastructures and knowledge to design a local supply chain of halophytes. By design, its scope is to connect the farmers to the consumer: from establishing local halophytes seed families and varieties, to assisting farmers in the production of these novel crops and securing the sale of the final produce to local restaurants.
For this reason, The Tidal Garden is also a center for culinary research and dissemination. Chefs experiment with tidal plants to create food recipes and everyday products that speak to human cohabitation with a shifting environment. Through a programme of events that revives the local interest in salt-loving plants, The Tidal Garden establishes a new narrative around halophytes as iconic and important inhabitants of the Venetian Lagoon.