People spend a lot of time and money trying to stop algae from growing (think pool chemicals, water-jet cleaners and under-sink filters) so why would you want to learn how to keep green slime happy and productive?
Maybe because you want to make sustainable biodiesel, or omega-3 fatty acids, or natural colouring agents, or kai paen chips to have with a beer. Like all green plants, algae can do the magic of turning water and air into sugars, fats and proteins. And some algae, like Spirulina can do this in saline, alkaline water that will grow nothing else. If not for Spirulina, there would be no flamingos (and certainly not pink ones).
By mass, Spirulina has twice as much complete protein as meat, as well as B vitamins, minerals including iron and the omega-3 fatty acids so many krill die to produce. It was eaten by the Aztecs (before the conquistadores drained the swamp), and is still eaten by tribes living in sub-Saharan Chad, as well as supplementarians across the wealthy West.
The UN, the World Health Organization and NASA all think Spirulina could be part of the answer to feeding humans when normal agriculture cannot (think climate catastrophe, or surviving on Mars), and the good news is that growing the stuff is easy, requires little special equipment and can be done on a domestic scale.
You can find out how by coming along to the Open Wetware workshop on Saturday 3 March here at The Edge (just book first).
*Thanks to Ken at www.spirulinagrowco.com.au for the use of his image.