Fish, fungi and ferments came together at the four-phased Full Moon Fishery Feast that concluded the second annual Maine Seaweed Festival on the grounds of Southern Maine Community College in South Portland. A variety of people came together, too – including researchers, food producers, foodies and entrepreneurs.
“This is a celebration of Maine’s water foods,” said Hillary Krapf, co-founder of the festival. “We’re including the new aquaponics industry and highlighting our local seafood in a way that is creative.”
Chef Frank Giglio outdid himself with a sea lettuce salad with aquacultured greens, horseradish, grilled onion, hemp seeds and a currant vinaigrette, followed by Maine mussels steamed with laver, fennel, leeks, potatoes, garlic and other fresh herbs.
“I feel completely blessed as a chef to live in Maine,” said Giglio, who plans to open the nation’s first solar-powered culinary school at his farm in Thorndike.
“This dinner celebrates our traditional marine heritage as well as the developing seaweed and aquaculture industries,” said festival co-founder Sarah Redmond, a marine extension agent with the Maine Sea Grant and University of Maine Cooperative Extension.
“It’s a good little community here of marine researchers and aquaculturists,” said Jackson McLeod, co-founder of Fluid Farms, based in Portland. Fluid Farms is “farming an ecosystem,” with hybrid striped bass feeding on lettuce, which in turn cleans water.
“This is the harbinger of what’s to come for marine aquaculture,” said Jeff Walls of Applied Ponic Technologies, which is raising rainbow trout with kale. “It’s cool to eat their goods and drink their goods.”
Guests drank Allagash Oceanus, a pale ale brewed with Maine Coast Sea Vegetables, and Seaweed Sours made with Sorrento Skinny Kelp and a Maine Craft Distilling whiskey.
“There are so many possibilities for Maine industry,” said Sara Yentsch, who is working with Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences to facilitate an algae cluster with funds from Maine Technology Institute.
“There’s enormous potential,” said Sebastian Belle, executive director of the Maine Aquaculture Association, based in Hallowell. “I’ve never seen the level of interest among young entrepreneurs that I see now. Aquaculture is becoming the new face of the working waterfront.”
Mother-and-daughter entrepreneurs Claire and Carly Weinberg formed Dulse & Rugosa three years ago to create bath and body products made from seaweed grown on a remote island off the coast of Acadia National Park. “To see how many people are excited about seaweed is just awesome,” said Carly.
Entrepreneur Adam Grossman of Austin, Texas, flew up to promote Seaweed Bath Co., which he founded to promote bathing in seaweed for skin health.
“Our customers have this love of the ocean, and we highlight that we use Maine seaweed,” said Grossman, who buys from VitaminSea, based in Buxton. “In 10 years, this festival is going to be huge. I think seaweed will be part of the economic revival of Maine.”
Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be contacted at: