Story

In 2011 I was living aboard my 27' sailboat Boundless. I lived alone in Northeast Harbor, Maine. It was November, and not warm out. As the summer folks had trickled away, I got to know the locals. My neighbors the lobstermen, who rise before the sun even in the winter to fish. The curious harbor seal pup Nori, the snowy mountains, and the denizens of the dock-- pink anemones, barnacles and various seaweeds. 

I was raised on the seaward tip of an island that sticks out like a tongue from the mouth of Narragansett Bay. I knew the best way to blunt the edge of boredom was to explore. I didn't have far to go to discover unknown territory-- I frequently found myself laying on my belly on the dock, wrapped in many layers of wool sweaters, watching the seaweeds ripple and sway in the current. I got curious about exactly what species i was witnessing, how they lived and reproduced. I took some books out of the library and began identifying, collecting, illustrating and pressing seaweeds.

I started harvesting select species for the cooking pot. Cooking onboard often means one-pot meals. I started including my foraged seaweeds (alaria, digitata, sea lettuce, sugar kelp) in my line-up of One Pot Wonders. I've always been a big fan of the umami flavor (long before I knew what it meant) and I soon was including foraged seaweeds in nearly every meal. I had no idea that something so humble and overlooked could be so delicious!

I sailed Boundless up and down the Maine coast, visiting commercial seaweed wild harvesters. I learned a lot about the wild coast and made many friends. I tarried in the Damariscotta River, where I found some charming kelp farmers to attach myself to and pester. I have worked seasonally with my mentors Seth Barker and Peter Fischer of Maine Sea Farms since 2015. They taught me about resilience, kelp farming, the vietnam war, and how to drink a rolling rock really fast. I'm still learning that one! 

In 2019, it was time for me to set up my own farm. The lease in Muscongus Bay was chosen for the local beds of astoundingly healthy and vibrant kelp. All the sugar kelp comes from my lease, and I hope to grow other species in the future (dulse! scallops!)

I love farming kelp, and I love eating it. The many health benefits and delightful flavor have enriched my life.

I hope my kelp brings you both health and joy. 

 

Seth and I after seeding my lease in 2019

-Sarah Thorpe