‘Maine Fresh Sea Farms’ entrepreneurs at FARMS Community Kitchen
On Friday, Nov. 7, at the FARMS Community Kitchen, Peter Arnold and Peter Fischer introduced their exciting new aquaculture business, Maine Fresh Sea Farms, with an informative and entertaining presentation about the healthy, delicious addition of sea vegetables to the local table.
Sea vegetables are the “new kale” according to the two Peters and, to be sure, sea vegetables are not your grandmother’s seaweed.
The enthusiastic entrepreneurs provided an overview of the sea vegetable agronomy in Maine that has existed for some years but has not had a significant impact on the farm to table market. The importance of finding nutritious additions to the world food supply was underscored with data about the population growth, critically shrinking available land for agriculture (only 7 percent world-wide) and the potential for a sustainable supply of sea vegetables with sea farming over multiple seasons.
Maine Fresh Sea Farms is currently expanding its aquaculture with a sea grant from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. Their mission is simple: grow in multiple seasons; produce multiple species.
The informative slide presentation illustrated the location, structure of beds and method of farming sea vegetables such as sugar kelp, dulse, digitata or finger kelp and wakame. Class attendees learned about the complex method of seeding, transferring to rope systems, harvesting and drying. The anecdotal part of the drying experience gave guests many chuckles.
The design of the new FARMS Community Kitchen offered class attendees an opportunity to join the two Peters in preparing the different varieties of sea vegetables around the large teaching island. There was an exciting buzz of activity enhanced by the introduction of the most delicious sea vegetable product: beer. Yes, beer!
The foods prepared and sampled by the class included a chowder, a side vegetable sauté of kale and kelp, a sea kelp salad with examples of fresh sugar kelp and a blanched version. FARMS founder Karen Kleinkopf joined the demo and prepared a healthy mac ‘n cheese with kelp; board president Samuel Kaymen provided a delicious sautéed vegetable dish with sweet potato and kelp.