Kelp being harvested last year in Casco Bay by Bangs Island Mussels/Wild Ocean Aquaculture. Photo credit: Jaclyn Robidoux

The fourth annual Maine Seaweed Week kicks off Friday, on Earth Day, with a party at Oxbow Blending & Bottling, 49 Washington Ave., in Portland, featuring Oxbow’s kelp beer launch and demos led by seaweed farmers and scientists.

The free kickoff party runs from 5 to 9 p.m., with demonstrations scheduled for the first 90 minutes. Seaweed Week runs through May 1.

The event had been curtailed during the last two years of the pandemic, but returns this year in full force, with more than 75 bars and restaurants offering special dishes and drinks using savory, umami-rich seaweed, as well as five breweries tapped to create special beers. The event website lists participating venues.

“People tend to like seaweed when they try it, but they don’t have a lot of opportunities to try it,” said Maine Seaweed Week founder Josh Rogers of Heritage Seaweed, explaining the importance of having area chefs and mixologists show event goers exactly how delicious the abundant ingredient can be. “They’ll be using it to make everything from burgers, hot dogs and pizza to thoughtfully plated, farm-to-table dishes. I love that it shows the truly broad range of possible uses for seaweed.”

In a bit of scheduling serendipity, the Northeast Aquaculture Conference & Exposition is convening jointly with the Milford Aquaculture Seminar April 27-29 in Portland, meaning Seaweed Week will be a potential must-see for boatloads of seaweed farmers, scientists and other experts already in town for the expo.

“It’s probably the single most sustainable crop you can grow,” Rogers said, contrasting it with organic produce, which requires open land and lots of fresh water. As seaweed grows, Rogers said, it improves seawater quality by lowering acidification that weakens shellfish shells. “We really need to be scaling up our seaweed farming. It’s transforming the working waterfront.”


Jaclyn Robidoux, co-organizer of both Maine Seaweed Week and the aquaculture expo, said Maine has about 30 seaweed farms, up from one farm just a decade ago. “We’ve definitely seen a jump in the last 10 years. Before that, there were no seaweed farmers mostly because there were no seaweed buyers,” Robidoux said.

Rogers noted Maine’s long history with seaweed as an ingredient. “It’s always been part of the local diet, going back to the Indigenous peoples,” Rogers said. Indeed, New England’s first nature guidebook – dating back to 1672 – lists numerous culinary and medicinal uses for seaweed, many gleaned from Native Americans.

Rogers said Seaweed Week “is a little offbeat, but it’s very important, and people are excited about the event being in Maine.”

Fermentation Fair at Oxbow

Nicholas Repenning of Go-en Fermented Foods presents some of his miso and koji products to Fermentation Fair goers in 2020 at Bunker Brewing Co. in Portland. Alden Robinson

Fermentation Fair is slated for Wednesday from 5 to 7 p.m. at Oxbow Blending & Bottling in Portland.

The fair features eight presenters, from restaurant chefs to home-process experts, explaining their methods for making koji, yogurt, kimchi, vinegar, sourdough bread, wild and organic wines, and other fermented foods.


“There are so many fermented foods being made right now in Maine, and just a crazy variety,” said Eileen Murphy, co-director of the local nonprofit The Resilience Hub, which is putting on the fair for the third year since 2019. “There’s some fermented food I haven’t even heard of that will be there, so I think it’ll be a great learning experience for everyone there.”

Murphy said the fair wasn’t held last year because of the pandemic. But fermented-food fans can take heart – The Resilience Hub intends to hold the fair annually again.

“We’re trying to get even more people involved in the future,” Murphy said, adding that she feels fermented foods are on the rise in Maine. She attributes their growing popularity to the fundamental combination of science and food.

“I know first hand how tricky fermentation can be, though,” Murphy said. “So the fair is a great opportunity to ask fermentation experts about their processes, and learn so much more about it.”

The Fermentation Fair is free and open to the public.

More good press for Portland dining


Portland restaurants earned another major magazine story, this time in Conde Nast Traveler, which ran a roundup last month of “The 15 Best Restaurants in Portland, Maine.”

“These days, Portland is a jumble of creative and scrappy spots that make snacking your way around town an utter delight. That said, when you want the complete dining experience of a sit-down-and-linger meal that will haunt your dreams, these are the restaurants to be reckoned with,” the story proclaims, before offering writeups on Solo Italiano, Union at The Press Hotel, The Honey Paw, Woodford Food & Beverage, Central Provisions, Via Vecchia, Scales, Fore Street, Baharat, Eventide Oyster Co., Chaval, Izakaya Minato, Pai Men Miyake, Terlingua and Street & Co.

The Conde Nast Traveler piece also offers an explanation of how this small city developed such a giant reputation for fine food.

“The state’s proud lack of pretense and its close-knit community of small farms, working waterfronts, and independent restaurants are long-held traditions that predate (and frankly, eclipse) hype phrases like ‘locavorism.’ And it means not only widespread access to far better food for everyone, but that celebrated fine dining here tends to eschew anything high-concept, and instead just keep it real,” the story states.

Portland Farmers’ Market headed outside

As its indoor winter season draws to a close, the Portland Farmers’ Market will be held Wednesdays and Saturdays in Deering Oaks from April 27 until Nov. 23.

This Saturday will be the last indoor market of the year in the gymnasium at the Stevens Square Community Center at 631 Stevens Ave. The summer market will remain at Deering Oaks except between May 18 and June 15, when it will move to Payson Park while the city treats trees at Deering Oaks for an infestation of browntail moths, according to Portland Farmers’ Market Association President Caitlin Jordan.

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