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A Trip to a Seaweed Farm

Sugar Kelp Pressing

Sugar Kelp Pressing by Marta Bellocq

This farm requires no alteration of the surrounding environment other than the moorings and the ropes and buoys…

Today I wait on the dock for Sarah Redmond (a seaweed farmer) to bring in the flat-bottomed boat. I am standing alongside Dr. Susan Brawley, the internationally known phycologist from the University of Maine, two of her students, and Shep Erhart. The cool air smells of salt and iodine. A strand of wild sugar kelp floats by, its stipe, filled with oxygen, as buoyant as a life preserver. It trails a 12-foot-long blade. I lean over and pull it up onto the dock. Susan Brawley tells me it’s typical of the wild kelps that grow underwater here. Around us, lobster boats rock slowly in the tide, tugging at their moorings. It’s late May, and the sailing crowds have not yet launched their pleasure craft. This is still what we call the working waterfront. Sarah brings her boat up to the dock, and we climb in. We head out, away from the mainland behind us, the tops of the spruces and pines pointing through the fog. This seaweed farm is an experiment, although the harvests, which are plentiful, are already being sold as food. It is leased by the state to a local fisherman who is working with Sarah and Shep to build …

From Seaweed Chronicles: A World at the Water’s Edge by Susan Hand Shetterly. Published by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill.

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