Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Sea Vegetable Nursery Aims To Make Maine A Seaweed Leader
ORONO, Maine — Lobsters, blueberries and potatoes are three of Maine's iconic foods.
Seaweed could one day be another, says Sarah Redmond.
“Maine has this potential to be this seaweed leader [and] be known as the seaweed state,” says Redmond, a seaweed farmer.
Redmond and University of Maine marine science professor Susan Brawley are working to make that a reality. The co-directors of the Sea Vegetable Nursery at the University of Maine Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research (CCAR) in Franklin, Maine are aiming to build an industry-supported seaweed nursery system.
Toward that end, they’re developing seed stock that’s regionally specific and well-suited to sea farmers up and down the state’s coast.
“Everybody in the world should eat a little bit of seaweed every day,” she says of the vegetable packed with fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Redmond describes seaweed as crispy, salty and delicious, and says it’s wonderful in salads, as dried sea vegetable snacks, as a salt substitute and as an ingredient in soup and beer.
“It provides nutrients we’re missing in our land-based food system and it reconnects us with the ocean.”
Redmond says the market for all things seaweed is vast.
“There’s a whole world of possibilities,” she says, including bioremediation and as a healthy additive in pet food and skin care products.
Redmond, who graduated from UMaine with a degree in aquaculture, says being a seaweed farmer is her calling. She owns Springtide Seaweed, a 24-acre sea vegetable plot she tends in Frenchman Bay.
For others interested in, or already invested in the field, the Sea Vegetable Nursery is selling seeded spools of four species of seaweed — sugar kelp, skinny kelp, alaria and dulse.
Each spool contains about 200 feet of seed twine wrapped around a piece of PVC pipe. The seed on the twine is produced in the nursery from native Maine seaweed parents. During fall “planting,” farmers wind the seeded twine onto large secured ropes in ocean plots.
“Sea vegetable farming is a beautiful idea — but we need to make it real and make it an industry that can be self-supporting,” says Redmond. “This allows [farmers] to get the seed they need. The more people we have really invested in making this a reality, the more of a diversified ... successful industry we’ll create.”
The nursery is organically certified by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association; both organic and conventional seed spools can be pre-ordered through July 25 by contacting Redmond (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Brawley (email@example.com).
More information about the seeds is available on the CCAR site. Also to learn more, watch this video about Redmond, seaweed and the Sea Vegetable Nursery.
About the University of Maine:
The University of Maine, founded in Orono in 1865, is the state's land grant university, with research and community engagement classifications awarded by the Carnegie Foundation. UMaine is among the most comprehensive higher education institutions in the Northeast and attracts students from Maine and 49 other states, and 63 countries. It currently enrolls 11,219 total undergraduate and graduate students who can directly participate in groundbreaking research working with world-class scholars. The University of Maine offers 35 doctoral degrees, 85 master’s degrees, and more than 90 undergraduate majors and academic programs; and one of the oldest and most prestigious honors programs in the U.S. The university promotes environmental stewardship, with substantial efforts campuswide aimed at conserving energy, recycling and adhering to green building standards. For more information about UMaine, visit umaine.edu