CABBAGES AND KINGS
As oyster farmers, our first experience with seaweed was a negative one. Human activity such as lawn/crop fertilization, waste treatment and atmospheric deposition from fossil fuel combustion has dramatically increased nitrogen loading to Ninigret Pond. This causes algae blooms which occasionally inundate the farm, diminish the flow, and choke out the oysters. Jules thought that perhaps this seaweed could be used for something positive, perhaps an organic fertilizer. Upon further research, Jules was unable to find an economically viable method to harvest this seaweed for a positive use. However, it did get his gears turning.
Research found that there was a growing trend in the world of "Sea Vegetables". In Japan alone annual production value of nori amounts to US$2 billion and is one of the world's most valuable aquaculture crops. Though nori isn't prevalent in the North East, there is one sea vegetable that stood out and is native to the waters of Rhode Island, Sugar Kelp.
Sugar Kelp (Saccharina latissima) is a brown algae that grows between the months of October and May. This proves to be convenient growing cycle given the fact that production on the oyster farm tends to peter out during the winter month. Below is a photo set of the growing process.