Kelp farming is something we hold near and dear at AKUA. It was our farmers who believed in the potential of sustainable aquaculture that inspired Kelp Jerky in the first place! So, we thought we’d put together a little “how-to” for those of you out there thinking about starting your own farm.
Step One - Acquiring Spores:
First you must gather the spores you’ll need to grow your kelp. This collection must be done manually, cutting healthy sorus tissue to acquire the spores. Sorus tissue is the “pregnant” area at the center of the kelp blade containing the sporangia, which are cells that generate and contain the spores.
Step Two - The Nursery
This is the point when a farmer attaches the spores onto a twine they’ve wrapped around a PVC pipe. The twine is around 1mm and will usually be as long as 200 feet. The spools are then placed in water under set conditions where they will then enter the gametophyte stage of growth (usually 24-36 hours after they're harvested from the kelp blades). Soon they will become young spores, and at this point will be ready to be transferred to the farm (usually four to six weeks after initial placement in the nursery).
Step Three - Farm Placement
The lines of twine are set into the water, about seven feet below the surface with several buoys keeping them afloat. It’s recommended that they are placed ten to fifteen feet apart. As the kelp matures, their stipes will fill up with gas, allowing them to stay afloat on their own.
Step Four - Harvest
Normally, the nursery stage will happen from September to November at which point the lines are set out in the water. March is usually when harvesting takes place. The farmers will remove the lines from the ocean, each piece of twine carrying gorgeous locks of glistening kelp!
What most people don't know is that it doesn’t take a huge investment to start a kelp farm. The most expensive part is buying a plot of ocean to grow the kelp in along with either renting or purchasing a boat during placement/harvest season. And by planting a small kelp farm, a person is able to draw tons (literally) of carbon out of our atmosphere each year.
It truly is a labor of love and we adore each and every one of our amazing farmers! So here’s to more individuals undertaking regenerative agriculture and coming together to fight climate change as best we can!