In 1991, Charlie Paton, a British lighting engineer and inventor established a company called Seawater Greenhouse with the idea of using only seawater and sunlight to grow crops in greenhouses.

In 2010, Seawater Greenhouse build one of his greenhouses on arid land near Port Augusta in South Australia for another company, called Sundrop Farms.

Sundrop Farms is headed by Phillip Schaumweber,  a wealthy, London-based, Harvard educated, German former investment banker, who recruited a team of young experts from around the world to commercialise the idea. The team replaced much of the original "Heath Robinson" equipment with modern technology – bringing in tracking mirrors from Germany and a desalination plant and heat exchanger from Switzerland and, much to Charlie Paton's dismay, installing a diesel-powered backup generator.

After a successful 18-month trial, the company is about to start building a $12 million, 8 hectare greenhouse – 40 times bigger than the current one – which will produce 2.8 million kilograms of tomatoes and 1.2 million kilograms of capsicums a year.