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SFU study suggests ancient clam farms worked well

By Dana Bowen, 24 hours Vancouver



Ancient clam farms created by Aboriginal people shelled out a superior amount of clams and the method could be used to nurture today’s food security, says a new study.

The three-year study by SFU researchers revealed Thursday ancient rock-walled terraces known as clam gardens produced four times as many butter clams and twice as many littleneck clams than natural beaches.

Aboriginal people in coastal communities built the structures on beaches to grow what was one of their main sources of food.

The walls were built on shore, but close enough to the ocean for the tied to fill them with water to house the clams.

“This is an example of an innovative solution that we’ve used in the past,” said study co-author Amy Groesbeck.

As part of the study researchers transplanted about 800 baby clams into six ancient gardens and five natural beaches to compare growth. They discovered the mollusks in the ancient gardens grew twice as fast and were more likely to survive than in the non-walled beaches.

Researchers worked alongside First Nations communities who helped them understand how Aboriginal people cultivated clams in the past.

“It’s teaching us how Aboriginal people connect to their land,” said SFU professor and co-author Dana Lepofsky.

Researchers are planning on conducting more experiments and interviews to discover how such techniques for cultivating clams could be employed today to help farm them sustainably.






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