Cruising by on a boat, it’s easy to miss Jake Patryn’s farm, which looks like nothing more than an unassuming row of red and white buoys floating just off the coast of Machias, Maine. The crop he and co-founder Morgan-Lea Fogg gather each spring lies just below the surface: long lines of slick brown sugar kelp. After growing nearly 10 feet during the winter — amassing vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids along the way — the kelp is primed for its moment in the sun. A quick taste test proves it true: Their crop is ready to harvest.
This marks Patryn’s sixth year as a seaweed farmer, but he’s been working on the water for much longer. Hailing from a commercial lobstering family in Maine, Patryn sees cultivating this marine crop as a lifeline for a community threatened by fishing’s uncertain future. While he still casts his traps on occasion, farming kelp by hand and selling it as snacks and seasonings has become his main focus.
It may seem quaint compared to the industrial operations that grow most of the world’s food, but outfits like Patryn’s Nau... Read more