Summerland Farms and Plant a Million Corals Foundation’s Land-based Nursery: A Pioneering Effort in Coral Restoration

Summerland Farms, a 4-acre bayside property in Summerland Key, Florida, is home to a unique and innovative coral nursery operated by the Plant a Million Corals Foundation. This facility is not only a production facility with the goal of producing 1.1 million corals by the end of 2024, but serves as a demonstration and training facility for the public and coral practitioners all over the world.

The Summerland Farms nursery uses micro-fragmentation to grow a variety of coral species, including both branching and massive coral species. The majority of the tanks used are a special design from Dr. Vaughan, specific to coral restoration. Curved shape and clear acrylic make a highly visible hydrodynamic design that can be produced by the organization at a fraction of the cost and time. Not only are they more efficient but they make coral restoration accessible to those with physical disabilities as well.

Corals in acrylic tank
Staff giving tour of facility with corals in view

The nursery is staffed by experienced coral scientists and technicians who carefully monitor the corals’ growth and health. The water for the tanks comes from deep water wells, so the water is naturally sterile, free of pathogens and organisms, with the water only needing to be treated for excessive hydrogen sulfide and nitrogen. Through a simply water treatment process, the water is readily available for use.

The Summerland Farms nursery is a pioneering effort in coral restoration. It is demonstrating that land-based nurseries can be used to grow large numbers of corals in a cost-effective and sustainable manner. The nursery is also providing valuable training and support to other coral restoration organizations around the world.

The Summerland Farms nursery is a shining example of what can be achieved when people come together to protect our oceans.

Solar Panels on water treatment
Micro-fragmentation station with acrylic tanks in background

Off-grid and solar-powered

The Summerland Farms nursery is also notable for being off-grid and solar-powered. This means that it does not rely on the electrical grid for power, and it generates its own electricity using solar panels. This makes the nursery more sustainable and environmentally friendly.

The use of solar power is also important for coral reef restoration. Coral reefs are sensitive to changes in water quality, and the use of solar power helps to reduce the nursery’s environmental impact as well as ensures that it is not dependent on a power grid that can be compromised by storms. Many coral restoration programs are in locations that are susceptible to heavy weather systems and unpredictable power sources so solar power may be the only option for a reliable support system. By using solar as our main source of electricity at Summerland Farms, PAMCF is demonstrating and innovating these systems.

Summerland Farms is growing mangroves for future planting. The trees are grown in tubs and pots under the outflow from the coral tanks.

Summerland Farms is open to the public for tours Monday – Friday 9am-4pm and on weekends by appointment. For more information, or to make an appointment, please contact us at [email protected].

The Summerland Farms nursery is a model for sustainable coral reef restoration. It is demonstrating that land-based nurseries can be used to grow large numbers of corals without harming the environment. The use of solar power is a key part of this model, and it is helping to make coral reef restoration more sustainable and accessible.