April 18, 2010

Acquire some mussels

Founders of a pioneering rope-grown mussel operation off Clapboard Island are ready to sell.

By Beth Quimby bquimby@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Toleff Olson packs washed mussels at Bangs Island Mussels off Clapboard Island on Wednesday. The floating farm – including an array of “little tips” from Olson, who started the farm 10 years ago – is on the market; asking price, $275,000.

Tim Greenway/Staff Photographer

The sorted mussels are then fed into a debearding machine. They emerge clean and ready for market.

The farmers then wash down all evidence of mussels from the decks so as not to attract annoying seagulls, one of Olson’s little tips.
While Olson and Dobbins will reveal financial details of the operation to serious buyers only, they say the farm makes enough to support two families.

Consummate salesmen, the two say demand for mussels began to skyrocket once the stock market turned around. Last year, they doubled their sales, said Olson, as he served visitors a platter of mussels with curried mayonnaise and a bowlful of his sea kelp slaw.
Olson said he takes great pride in the reputation of his mussels and wants that reputation to continue under the new owners. The Bangs Island mussels have national brand recognition and have been featured on the Martha Stewart show, Bon Appetit and Gourmet magazines.

Mussel farming on suspended ropes is considered an environmentally benign form of aquaculture compared to finfish farming, which can pollute and cause other environmental problems, another positive selling point, said Scott Balfour, broker for Olson’s mussel business.

Balfour said while he doesn’t have a lot of experience selling mussel farms – this is his first – the demand for locally produced and organic food should make the Bangs Island Mussels an attractive business.

Staff Writer Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:
bquimby@pressherald.com

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