Kelp Line for Massachusetts Maritime Academy
By: Michaella Lesieur, Intern Marketing Manager for Kendall
Over the course of the past couple months Massachusetts Maritime Academy has been working hard to start their own kelp initiative, located in their own waters. Mass Maritime partnered with Stonington Kelp Co. in Pawcatuck, Connecticut to make this dream become a reality.
The flotational buoys are almost all set to start growing their own line of kelp which the dining facility can utilize in their own dining halls to fold into student and staff meals at the academy. The chefs have already been working to incorporate kelp into their meals as part of the Henry P. Kendall Foundation Award earlier this year that was won in collaboration with UMass Dartmouth, Northeastern University & Eastern Connecticut State in 2018.
Some recipes they have already spotlighted on their menu this year include but is not limited to kelp smoothies and homemade kelp pasta, where the kelp (mainly in the form of ribbon and sugar) is incorporated as an added ingredient and blended to create a unique dish as Massachusetts Maritime Academy Chef Wirzburger likes to explain it.
We sat down with Suzie Flores owner of Stonington Kelp Co. for this one on one interview on the process of making this kelp line.
Bold: Suzie Flores
Non-Bold: Michaella Lesieur
1. Explain what the process is when putting in a kelp line.
Kelp lines are actually kite string with tiny 1/2-centimeter baby kelp already growing on them. We get this kite string (also called seed string) from an approved hatchery. When we move the seed string from the hatchery to the ocean, we are unfurling the kelp string around a 1/2 in thick horizontal line suspended under the ocean. On our Instagram page you can find pics of us out planting: @stoningtonkelpco.
2. What is it like to partner with Massachusetts Maritime Academy on this project? What are the goals for this line?
Mass Maritime's support will help my farm fund the basics needed to begin scaling our operation to supply kelp to more restaurants and markets locally. They are not only supporting a small woman owned farm, but also the development of a new sustainable economy right here in New England. Our crop is restorative meaning it scrubs carbon from the ocean. Most seaweed consumed in the US is imported from areas where there are no controls over the quality of water where the kelp is grown. By buying local, we are reducing our carbon footprint, improving local waters, and supporting a local economy. Their support also helps get the word out about kelp to the public. As more students begin seeing kelp as a normal part of their diet, it plants the seed that will eventually turn them into kelp consumers down the line.
3. When should this be ready for production?
Kelp is a winter crop. We out-plant the seed-string in December and begin harvesting in March. Kelp can grow 2-4 inches in a day depending on the time of year and water conditions. We will begin harvesting once our test results from the department of Ag come back confirming that our crops are clear of any heavy metals or bacteria.
4. What are the stages in growing kelp? How will this be similar to Mass. Maritime's time track?
Kelp is wild harvested when it wants to reproduce and taken to the hatchery. Spores are released and fertilized in the hatchery tank and allowed to develop for 3-5 weeks. At that point we out-plant them in the ocean.
5. Why do you feel kelp is important for people to start incorporating into their lifestyle?
Kelp is healthy - it is high in iron, calcium, iodine, potassium, folate and lots of vitamins. It also absorbs carbon and nitrogen from our waters. Finally, it's a local economy that can be developed right here in New England to support a new generation of responsible farmers who want to grow something healthy and native.
6. Anything else you would like to add or say?
Eat more kelp and vote for us to win the FedEx small business grant by visiting www.stoningtonkelpco.com.