We wanted to give you all an update on your package of kelp noodles - a reward for your generous donation to our 3D ocean farm. We've had some of the coldest water temps seen in decades in Long Island Sound. Here's a picture of Bren in the skiff navigating the ice.
The hyper-cold temps have have drastically slowed the growth rates of the kelp - or at least that's our working theory. So right now the plants are too small to begin processing as noodles because they are less than 1/2 normal length and leafs are thin for this time of year. Here's a picture of their current size.
As a result of the cold, it's going to take longer for the kelp to grow - probably closer to early July before they mature. Once they reach the right size, we'll harvest, cook and package your noodles as quickly as possible.
Sorry for the delay, but these are the unexpected twists and turns of ocean farming! All the best and happy Spring! Bren
Happy New Year! Thanks to you all we took our farm to whole new level in 2013. Here’s an update of what we've been up to:
Getting the word out: In October I gave a TEDx talk called: “3D Ocean Farming: The Least Deadliest Catch.” Be great if folks could share the video to help get the word about our 3D model. (Here’s a review of the talk)
Salt! We have begun harvesting sea salt from our ocean grounds - and requests are already flooding in from chefs, butchers and markets. By drying it in a greenhouse, we’re able to produce literally hundreds of pounds using only renewable energy. So keep your eye out for our 5 varieties of sea vegetable-infused artisan salts.
Press: Bon Appetit produced a profile of our farm: Bren Smith is Changing the Way Seaweed is Grown – and Eaten; as did NationSwell, which dug into our efforts to address climate change: Eat Kelp: The Seaweed That Could Save Mankind. We were also honored to be chosen one of six “Ocean Heroes” by Oceana. Here’s their write up: Ecological Redemption, Underwater Gardens, and Moby Dick: Q+A with Ocean Hero Finalist Bren Smith
Scaling up the Farm: Here's the farm with all the new gear installed. This is what you all helped create!
Here we are seeding this year's kelp with the help of UCONN's powerhouse scientific team.
Here’s Tim, our Navy-trained diver, out recovering gear in the chilly waters of LI Sound. Not for the faint of heart!
Here I am heading out on a icy day to check on our shellfish crop.
Kickstarter Gifts: The shirts that artist Nicola Armster silkscreened have been mailed in batches over the last 3 months, with the last of them sent out just before Christmas. Mail has been slow due to the Christmas rush so it may take awhile (Canada and Europe appears to especially slow). Kelp noodles will be heading out the door later this spring and we'll be setting up farm tours this summer for large donors. Thanks to Sefra Levin for helping get all the gifts out the door and teaching us about salt! Check out Nicola's amazing etsy shop for more of here art work. And here's my Mom in her kitchen ironing your t-shirts - a family affair!
Education: Finally here’s a fun video that Yale put together about our adventures with the Yale Sustainable Food Project.
Thanks again everyone!
Bren - your local ocean farmer
Hey everyone! Writing to report on what we’ve done with your generous donations! And there’s lots to report…
We've installed the anchors, chain and buoys for seven new longlines with a volunteer team and couple of large barges. It's all underwater so there’s not much to see, but here’s a picture of your low-impact restorative 3D ocean farm! Oh, how beautiful...
At the same time, we have a team working on compliance measures with the Food and Drug Administration and the Health Department for our packaged foods. We're also in the process of setting up our kelp noodle processing machine - from South Korea - at the Bridgeport Sound School, which the high school kids will use to cook, cut and package all of our gluten-free noodles next spring.
Meanwhile we’ve continued to get the word out. Check out some of the latest coverage in BBC, Zagat, Fast Company, and Take Part (look for us in Bon Appetite next week and here's a full list of press coverage).
Last month we hosted folks from Whole Foods on the boat, cooking up a meal of kelp shrimp noodles, kelp butter and kelp lemon soup! Here's a photo of their chef and "local forager" prepping a tasty kelp lunch out at sea:
On the scientific front, thanks to Dr. Charlie Yarish and his team at the University of Connecticut we have launched a series of new environmental research initiatives, including a training program for new kelp farmers and a project to quantify the restorative effects of our 3D farm on native fish populations.
On the education front, check out Yale Sustainable Food Project's interns out working on the ocean farm - fun crew!
And look at how beautifully the Yale Farm's tomatoes are growing with our kelp fertilizer!
This month we were also honored to be selected as one of Social Capital Markets 2013 global entrepreneurs and to participate at The Future of Fish's "Oyster Opportunity" panel. Our 3D ocean experiment is making waves!
We also began mailing out Kickstarter awards! The $25 donation certificates (pictured below) are in the mail, the $10 donation stickers are being printed and the $50 silkscreened tee-shirt are about ½ way complete (we hand print each one). My parents did all the packaging! Those of you that donated $100 for kelp noodle have to wait till our spring harvest. And large donors, we’re excited to host you for a farm tour and 3D meal out on the water!
So that’s the news from the Thimble Islands! Stay in touch and know that you all changed my life.
bren - you local ocean farmer
We did it!
This morning our campaign ended and we not only reached our goal - we surpassed it by $7500. Deep thanks to everyone! Now it's time for this ocean farmer to get to work putting your donations to good use.
Over the coming months I'll send updates so you can track the progress of our farm expansion. I'll include pictures like the one above of us seeding kelp and the one below of an oyster cruncher thanking you for building him a reef. It's going to be hard work but also fun!
Thanks again and stay in touch! Bren
P.S. Check out a profile of our kelp event in this week's New Yorker Magazine. (It's behind a pay-wall so here's a PDF version). We were also chosen as one of Oceana's "Ocean Hero" finalists. If you're on Facebook, you can vote here.