(WGGB/WSHM) -- Recent studies by the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change estimate that 25 percent of greenhouse gas emissions are from farming and agriculture.
Food sources in the coming years will be under increased scrutiny to be effective stewards of the environment, so imagine a farm where you don't need to water and you don't need to fertilize. That would be the farm of the future.
It's not often you get to travel on a boat to visit a farm, but that's exactly what we did.
"It's a 1978 Boston whaler, really beautiful...center console right here that we gutted for an oyster farm," said Dan Martino, part-owner of Cottage City Oysters.
[Reporter: You've taken this beautiful boat and beaten it up]
"It's like taking a Corvette and making it into a dump truck is basically what we've done," Martino explained.
As a former photojournalist for Discovery Channel and National Geographic, Martino made a move from Houston, TX to Martha's Vineyard to open his business.
"The whalers are the unsinkable boat. It has v-hull," Martino said.
[Reporter: The Titanic was unsinkable too]
"Right, I'm not claiming it is unsinkable, but today, it will be," Martino noted.
Cottage City Oysters operates the only ocean oyster farm in New England, but first stop, Lagoon Pond to see some baby oysters.
Their baby oysters spend their seven months in the nursery before heading to the ocean.
Cottage City Oysters is a three-dimensional farm - a system of farming that maximizes space using the entire water column.
"Your traditional farm is two-axis: X and Y. With the water, we have a vertical axis too. The Z-axis that we can farm. You're not just flat farming, but you're vertically integrating farming too. We'll have our bottom cages sitting on the X, Y axis, then we have seaweed suspended above it, and growing down. It's more productive per square mile, per square acre. You can get a lot more food out of a smaller footprint," Martino added.
[Reporter: You can't see it. We are on your farm right now and can't see it]
"Right. That's the challenge of it," Martino said.
The oysters that Cottage City raises filter 50 gallons of water per day. That's their job: to eat seaweed and phytoplankton.
"Oysters are doing a good thing by eating that phytoplankton and turning it into protein and cleaning the water," Dan Marino said.
"What we are doing is regenerative, sustainable, and really helping the water in terms of absorbing the carbon and taking carbon out of the water which benefits ocean acidification, said Greg Martino, Dan's Brother and the other owner of Cottage City Oyster. "And to learn that you don't do anything, it's zero input, no fresh water, no food. It's literally harnessing Mother Nature and allowing it to do what it does. It was that moment that was like this is something I want to be a part of. It's not only helping the environment, it's not only challenging. It's a green business that I want to be a part of."
Dan Martino explained, "The reality is we don't have enough water to feed the amount of people coming up on the planet. That's the reality. The other reality is global warming, climate change is real. I have little kids, they are facing a future that is uncertain. Farming the oceans, we don't use fresh water, we don't have any inputs. We are extracting proteins and nutrients out of the ocean in a way that we can eat. That's sustainable, that's how we solve problems."
The Cottage City Oysters farm is consider small, only two acres, but it raises over 600,000 oysters a year.
However, it's not just oysters. The farm also grows seaweed for consumption.
"There are some seaweeds with 25 percent protein in them. They are super foods that we are just now discovering and incorporating into our diets," said Dan Martino
It's good for us and good for livestock. Recent studies have suggested supplementing just two percent of a cows diet with seaweed could reduce its methane emissions by 80 percent. That's a huge reduction in a dangerous greenhouse gas.
"We are going to be stressing the land more and more. It's going to get to a point where we aren't going to extend resources to produce certain proteins. To have a protein source that is zero input and ultimately sustainable, I think it is the future," Greg Martino said.
Dan Martino added, "It's the most sustainable protein farming on the planet....without a doubt. That's really the reason we got into it and why it should continue to grow and solve the problems we're facing.
[Reporter: Are you a farmer or a fisherman?]
"We are farmers. Oyster farmers are farmers, we are not fisherman. We get our seed, we plant it. We tend it and then we harvest," said Greg Martino.
It may be somewhat surprising, but the protein in one oyster is comparable to the protein in one egg.
The brothers told us that their farm will max out at a couple million oysters raised per year.