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weeds? all good!

From Island Farm & Garden Magazine March-May 2023

In 2018, the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance (VIEA) developed four business cases to attract Foreign Direct Investment.

The business case found that “A multitude of products are derived from aquatic plants including food stuffs and skin care products. Kelps, for example, are considered to be an excellent source of micronutrients, anti-oxidants and dietary fibre, a good source of vitamins, and marginal source of protein… Seaweeds, being plants exhibiting a unique biochemical composition, could be exploited for their multifunctional properties in the form of food, energy, medicine and cosmetics and as biotechnological tools.”

The business case for Seaweed Aquaculture rose to the top of this list and was quickly pursued by a team of experts and investors to form Cascadia Seaweed Corporation, partnering with Vancouver Island First Nations, to bring Vancouver Island seaweed to rapidly expanding global markets.

Since then, the demand for seaweed food and agricultural products continues to grow and Island Good companies like Cascadia Seaweed, Naas Foods and Sea Forest Macro Algae are leading the way on Vancouver Island!

Cascadia Seaweed is now the largest kelp cultivator in Canada. By partnering with coastal First Nations, they are cultivating seaweed in the ocean at scale to restore marine ecosystems. They then harvest that biomass to produce products that make positive impacts on the environment and build a more resilient food system. Cascadia Seaweed is focusing on delivering products in three key areas:

  • Feed Additives – Seaweed-based additives are used in animal nutrition for purposes of improving the quality of feed and the animals’ health & growth.
  • Farm Biostimulants – Biostimulants are applied to plants to enhance nutrition efficiency, abiotic stress tolerance, and crop quality traits.
  • Ecosystem Services – As seaweed grows in the ocean it provides benefits to the ecosystem that deserve to be measured and valued.

“We can responsibly cultivate seaweed on low-impact ocean farms, producing the same ecosystem services as naturally occurring kelp, then harvest the cultivated biomass and manufacture products that address the needs of crop and livestock farmers who are working so hard to build a more climate-resilient food system,” says Cascadia CEO Mike Williamson. “And we can do this in partnership with Indigenous communities.”

It’s sustainable aquaculture supporting regenerative agriculture — a circular system where every touch point makes a positive impact.

Another Island Good business, Naas Foods is an Indigenous-led team that creates delicious, premium kelp products that are organic, vegan-friendly, and hand harvested from the pristine coast of the Clayoquot Sound. Their product line includes everything from kelp flakes and seasonings to whole kelp that can be used as a seasoning in a variety of dishes.

As well, Sea Forest produces a variety of food and agricultural products derived from Pacific Sea Kelp and local ingredients, offering a unique flavor profile that is smoky, peppery, nutty, earthy, sharp, and sweet. They aim to dedicate a percentage of their farms to reseeding local kelp beds, with plans to cultivate robust and resilient plants to stand the test of environmental fluctuations. They also commit a portion of their harvests to support environmental innovation, sustainable aquaculture and agri-food and biomaterial development Provincial and Federal research programs.

When they’re not on the water, they’re exploring new flavour combinations, new textures and molecular gastronomy from the Sea Forest prep kitchen. We can’t wait to try their ice cream!

Seaweed farming and harvesting are sustainable and environmentally friendly ways to produce food and other products. Seaweed does not require fertilizers or pesticides to grow, and seaweed can help absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, making it a valuable tool in the fight against climate change.

It is exciting to see Island Good companies like Cascadia Seaweed, Naas Foods and Sea Forest Macro Algae at the forefront of this industry, demonstrating their commitment to sustainability and innovation. As the demand for seaweed continues to rise it seems the possibilities for seaweed are also growing and it could be an important resource for our future. Most recently, the Pacific Seaweed Industry Association, based in Port Alberni, was formed to develop awareness around the benefits and diverse use-values for seaweed.

Choose Island Good seaweed growers and harvesters for your garden and table nutrition!

Island Good is all about making it easy for islanders & visitors alike to find products made & grown in the Vancouver Island region (Vancouver Island & Rural Islands). Look for the Island Good logo to find products made & grown in the Vancouver Island region.