The Tidal Garden is a Venice-based research agency that explores the edible potential of halophytes - salt-tolerant plants - as a tool for cultural adaptation to climate change. Led by Filippo Grassi (environmental scientist), Lodovica Guarnieri (designer/researcher) and Lorenzo Barbasetti di Prun (chef/artist), in collaboration with a network of farmers and gastronomic professionals, the project focuses on establishing the cultivation of new crops and developing novel culinary habits from salinised agricultural fields.

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 halophites grow spontaneously on the salty soil of coastal agricultural land.

Literally “salt 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 growing portions of farmlands, halophiles are environmental pioneers that hold the potential to renegotiate farming and food consumption in the Venetian Lagoon within a new tidal condition.
By liaising with research and public institutions, The Tidal Garden currently envisages the creation of a supply chain that integrates the existing agricultural infrastructures and knowledge to revive active and sustainable stewardship of the landscape. Since 2021, we have been working with the Municipality of Cavallino-Treporti and local farmers on developing a communal adaptation strategy to the expanding portions of brackish soils in the area. Our collaboration aims at expanding the cultivation of halophytes for greater food sovereignty and resilience to climate change in the area.  

Alongside agricultural research, The Tidal Garden curates year-round programme of events to revive the interest in halophytes as a tool for adaptation to the changing environment. By inviting farmers, chefs, and artists to experiment with these plants, the programme creates occasions of research and wide-ranging dissemination while developing strategies for the inclusion of salt-loving plants in the culinary and cultural heritage of local communities.