S2E25: s2e25 Sam Norton - Seawater Agriculture: Tapping into the Earth’s Largest Resource


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Episode Summary

Join Harry Duran, host of Vertical Farming Podcast, as he welcomes to the show Founder of Heron Farms, Sam Norton. It is the mission of Heron Farms to create a sustainable agricultural system and restore the marsh using earth’s most abundant resource: seawater. In this episode, Harry and Sam talk all about sea beans, Sam’s fact-finding mission to Bangladesh to learn more about how seawater crops are grown, and the work Heron Farms is doing with other brands to help rebuild salt marshes across the globe.

Episode Sponsor

Ceres Greenhouse Solutions

Key Takeaways

  • 03:22 – Harry welcomes to the show Sam Norton, founder of Heron Farms, who speaks to his passion for environmental studies and what inspired him to get involved in AgTech
  • 10:07 – Sam discusses why he chose to focus on seawater agriculture, the startup competition he entered and won and the mission of Heron Farms
  • 15:17 – Mentors who have motivated and inspired Sam
    20:30 – Sam speaks to the various challenges that he faced when moving to indoor farming
  • 23:47 – The most eye-opening part of Sam’s trip to Bangladesh
  • 26:35 – Sam shares some of the tech stack he’s utilizing with Heron Farms and the skillset necessary to succeed in AgTech
  • 30:18 – Sam discusses some of the benefits and nutritional value of sea beans
  • 34:35 – Marketing challenges with sea beans
  • 38:28 – What Sam would do differently in building his team if given the chance
  • 41:52 – Sam talks about the work he’s doing with Dalai Sofia
  • 45:13 – How Sam has grown as a first-time CEO, what excites Sam most about the future and a tough question Sam has had to ask himself recently
  • 49:19 – Harry thanks Sam for joining the show and let’s listeners know where they can connect with him

Tweetable Quotes

“The mission of Heron Farms is to tap into the largest resource on the planet, which is seawater. And if we can do that while rebuilding the planet, that’s really a win-win.” (12:44)

“We’re fixing the car as we drive it down the road. We have the good kinds of problems. We have more demand than we can grow for so we’re fixing it as we go and trying to get ready to scale.” (14:55)

“Monocultures are scary at scale, but diverse agriculture at a smaller scale is very interesting and seems to be working over in Bangladesh although it has caused great loss in the natural environment.” (26:19)

“We’re basically copying the model that the avocado did. If you boil it down, all we’re really doing is asking, ‘why have you ever eaten an avocado?’ All those plants went through similar cycles. People didn’t know how to eat an avocado, when it was ripe, what a fair price was. And all of those are true of sea beans.” (35:10)

“These systems, they’re not like a fine wine. Indoor AgTech and your grow room do not get better with time.” (41:15)

“We pitched this idea with Dalai Sofia where we asked them to put our logo on their can and, in exchange, we’ll replant one square foot every time they sell one of these cans. And within three weeks it was their best-selling SKU.” (43:10)

“If we can team capitalism up with restoration then this planet is going to overflow with biodiversity.” (44:42)

Links Mentioned

Heron Farms Website

Sam’s LinkedIn

Dalai Sofia


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