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Bren Smith

Restorative ocean farmer, co-founder of GreenWave, and author of Eat Like a Fish

  • About Bren Smith

    As a young fisherman, Bren Smith spent years working long shifts on commercial trawlers that wreaked destruction along the ocean floor and in protective waters. Disheartened by an industry defined by its environmental violence, he moved on to salmon farming before realizing that it was just as unsustainable. It was then that he discovered a program to lease shellfishing grounds off the Connecticut coastline. There, he designed one of the first 3D ocean farms in the country on 20 acres in the Long Island Sound. This revolutionary approach allows farms to grow seafood such as mussels, oysters, and kelp in underwater columns that absorb carbon, act as storm surge protection, and restore water quality, all while providing a sustainable source of both food and employment.

    In Eat Like a Fish, Bren Smith shares his bold vision for the future, showing how we can transform current agriculture models while enjoying delicious, nutritious, locally grown food. More than that, restorative ocean farming could create millions of jobs and protect our planet from the causes and effects of climate change. In his enlightening talks, he shares valuable and revolutionary information about the relationship between agriculture, climate change, and inequality, and his integral role in the industry that could reshape the future of food.

    Bren Smith was born and raised in Newfoundland, where he left high school at the age of 14 to work on fishing boats from the Grand Banks to the Bering Sea. His debut book, Eat Like A Fish, was nominated for IACP Cookbook Award and won the 2020 James Beard Foundation Book Award for Writing. His writing also has appeared in The New York TimesNational GeographicThe Atlantic among others. He was featured in the HBO documentary Ice on Fire, narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio.

    Bren Smith is the owner of Thimble Island Ocean Farm, which won the Buckminster Fuller Challenge for ecological design, and, in 2017, was named one of TIME magazine’s “Best Inventions.” He is also the Executive Director of the non-profit GreenWave, which trains new ocean farmers.

    Contact us for more information about booking Bren Smith for your next event. 

  • Speaking Topics

    Sea Farming, Sustainability and the Future of Food

    In this talk, Bren Smith looks at the relationship between agriculture and climate, explaining how he bridges land and sea farming to create a new model that brings a high yield with a low impact. Learn more about the exciting possibilities of 3D ocean farming, from fresh food sources and flavors to climate change protection and prevention.

    Ocean Farming and the Fight for Equality in a Changing World

    Rising temperatures and sea levels bring rising inequality as climate change depletes our resources. In this talk, Smith explains how ocean farming is not only sustainable for the planet, but as a career, and how this new industry represents an exciting opportunity to build a uniquely diverse workforce with a regenerative economy

  • Video

  • Praise for Bren Smith


    Bren had the room busting up with laughter on multiple occasions and those in attendance (students, faculty, alumni, community members) seemed to really connect to Bren’s authenticity and down-to-earth demeanor.

    University of Alaska Southeast, Egan Library

    Praise for Eat Like a Fish

    A perfect balance between personal storytelling and blueprint for a new way to harvest our seas that can create meaningful jobs while simultaneously combatting climate change.


    A mind-bending look into an extraordinary world by a stunning and gifted story teller.

    Paul Hawken, author of Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming

    Bren Smith is a hero of ours—not just for his ingenious vertical farming of kelp and shellfish in the Thimble Islands, but for facing squarely the root causes of one crisis with many symptoms: climate change, desertification, obesity and hunger. This book shows us new ways to grow food and make a living that can both heal the planet and make life more satisfying.

    Yvon Chouinard, Founder of Patagonia

    What a remarkable book! Bren Smith has a (wild) life story to recount, a novel food-growing technique to describe, and a planet to help save. He’s a deft enough writer to pull it all off, with a wry joy that left me (more than usually) hopeful about our future.

    Bill McKibben, New York Times bestselling author of Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet and Radio Free Vermont

    Seaweed is the food of the future; it’s a powerhouse of nutrition and holds a world of untapped flavor and deliciousness. Bren’s underwater kelp farms can feed us for years to come and the more we eat, the more we also give back to the ocean. This book leads the way.

    René Redzepi, Head Chef & Co-owner Restaurant noma

    Part memoir, part treatise on the life of a professional fisherman, part manual for the future of eating worldwide, this unique book cannot help but make readers think long and hard about the fate of the earth as it faces the challenges of global warming and the outlook for feeding the planet. . . . Smith has now become a visionary leader in cultivating what may turn out to be a primary source of the world’s food. This is a book about a man as well as a book about an idea. . . . Readers will learn more about ocean farming here than they learned about whaling from Moby Dick, and will walk away with a handful of practical, tasty seaweed recipes to boot.

    Booklist (starred review)

    Smith is an articulate, very human ambassador for sustainable, ethical and environmentally beneficial mariculture, weaving his plea for changing the way we eat with solid proof of why it’s so necessary. He includes a global history here as well, spanning coastal cultures from China and Japan to Scotland and Atlantic Canada, all rich with best practices and viable traditions…If this new age of ‘climate cuisine’ needs an introduction, Eat Like a Fish is surely it.


    A thoughtful . . . eco-agro-pescatorial manifesto. . . . [Smith] describes how he came to realize that overfishing, climate change, ocean acidification, and other forces are making it impossible to extract a living from the sea—at least the sea as it is now. Instead, he has been busily working a stretch of Long Island Sound, raising shellfish and kelp, both of which are restorative. . . . Smith harbors a big vision of lots of little oceanic farms producing tons of seaweed and hundreds of thousands of crustaceans per acre—an economic revolution, he ventures, that could create 50 million direct jobs and a whole host of related ones. The author is no purist—he allows that he has a weakness for McDonald’s fish sandwiches and once lived a life of ‘stealing, dealing, fighting’—but it’s clear that he’s found a place among the back-to-the-landers, foodies, and greenies whom he might have made fun of back in the day but whom he now sees as allies.

    Kirkus Reviews
  • Books by Bren Smith

  • Media About Bren Smith

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and Availability

  • 212 572-2013
  • Bren Smith travels from New Haven, Connecticut

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