Give a man a spirulina and you feed him for a day. Teach a man how to grow spirulina and the man feeds his village every day.
The heart of our farms are the spirulina ponds in which the algea is cultivated. Since the beginning, we constantly improve our construction and adapt it to the respective on-site conditions. Besides our breeding ponds, we also use drying chambers. As soon as the sprirulina is ready for harvest, it is sieved through special nets and gently dried before being further processed into powder.
The spirulina ponds
The cultivation of spirulina takes place in salt water ponds with dimensions of 15 m x 4 m and a depth of 40 cm. They are made of waterproof concrete. It was very important for us to obtain all our buliding material from local sources.
Besides a high pH, two further things are necessary for an optimal growth of spirulina: enough sunlight and a sufficiently high oxygen concentration. Latter is guaranteed by a good circulation in the basins, for which we have continuously developed our pond constructions further. What’s remarkable here is the additional concrete wall, which divides the ponds in the middle. On the inside, the edges are curved and there’s a slope instead of harsh edges between the bottom and the sidewalls. This way, a cycle is created inside the construction, which is driven by a solar energy powered, purpose-built water wheel (paddle wheel). It’s important for the wheel to turn slowly to avoid the destruction of the spirulina, while it allows its continuous circulation at the same time.
Depending on the locations, we made several adjustments according to the different prevailing conditions. For example, in Turkana closed meshed nets protect the algae from the sand, which might contaminate the tanks. In Ebukanga a light permeable roof shields the spirulina from rain water, which otherwise would alter the perfectly balanced salt concentration.
Here you can read all about the construction of our second location in Ebukanga.
Our superfood is ready for harvest within a few days. As soon as the culture has multiplied to such an extent that the single spirulina cells get hooked into each other because of their helical structure, the algea can be fished out of the water with sievers or nets. After the harvest, the spirulina looks a bit like spinach. For the harvesting process we use thin-meshed plastic nets, which are clamped into wooden frames.
After fishing the algae out of the ponds, these wooden frames can be placed into our drying chambers. These chambers are simple wooden constructions, which heat up in the sunlight. Thereby, the spirulina can be dried in a gentle, natural way without direct sun exposure. This way, it’s
durability is extended and all the essential nutrients remain intact.
In a further step, the superfood is processed into powder. This step makes the distribution to the locals and the handling of the product a lot easier.
Another great advantage of spirulina in our fight against malnutrition is its growth by cell division. It is practically impossible to harvest the whole spirulina culture out of one pond. The remaining cells can still divide with an exponential growth rate, so our superfood can be harvested again within a few days without the need for new culture „seeding“.
We insist on keeping the quality of our product excellent. That’s why we verify the purity of our spirulina multiple times. Our farm manager examines the superfood under the microscope on a regular basis. This way, possible contaminations can be detected and fought right away. Moreover, we are in the process of registering spirulina as an official food at the local authorities. Therefore, it has to pass strict tests. Furthermore, we work on an innovative sensor system for the surveillance and control of our algae.