You may never have heard of samphire, also known as "sea beans," but plants like this salt-water tolerant product being sold by Heron Farms may be the key to overcoming a growing lack of fresh water.

Only 2.5 percent of fresh water on the planet is fresh for a world of 6.8 billion people and growing. Only 1 percent of our freshwater is easily accessible, with much of it trapped in glaciers and snowfields. In many developed countries clean water is hard to come or a service that needs labour or considerable capital to procure.

Heron Farms began as a study question put by graduate studentee and founder Sam Norton: What if the two greatest challenges of the 21st century were excess seawater and excess carbon dioxide? The South Carolina Agriculture Department ACRE Startup Competition and the Charleston-based Harbor Accelerator Startup Competition won first place for this idea for seawater agriculture.

Heron Farms has concentrated on one target since the first seed: size. Sea water agriculture has to rapidly scale up to feed the 10 billion projected by 2050. However, restrictions on land usage and difficulties with salt control have blocked recent outdoor approaches to seawater scalability. By planting plants vertically and controlling salinity with predictive software heron farms solves these scalar problems. Heron Farms is based in Charleston Center in South Carolina with plans to set up a model farm in 2021.

Sea beans have more vitamin A than broccoli, more calcium than an avocado, and are the planet's only annual plants with salt seasonings, according to the company's web site. The leading coastal chefs have long known sea beans as a delicacy, but only one with a short time of growings and therefore limited availability

Many samphires are edible. The Australian people used samphire as a bush tucker for many years due to its abundance, flavor, and nutritional value. Vitamin A is strong and good supplies of calcium and iron are good. Even along the Adriatic Coast there is a well-known form of rock sampire in Italy.