Supporting New England Kelp Farming to Expand New Locally-Produced Food Sources

Kelp has been eaten and used medicinally for hundreds of years in various forms, but it remains a relatively unknown and underutilized resource in recipes and on menus. The Massachusetts Maritime Academy, UMass Dartmouth, Northeastern University, and Eastern Connecticut State University seek to change that. Working with Chartwells, Farm Fresh Rhode Island, Sardilli Produce, and Dole & Bailey, these partners want to increase awareness of kelp among the public, introduce more of it on campus menus, and develop a marketing strategy to communicate the benefits of kelp.

The schools also plan on utilizing their academic strengths – including sustainability, biology, and maritime study – to integrate kelp farming, harvesting, and implementation into the curriculum. The University partners will share strategies, introduce kelp through menu programming, share recipes and track results.

Each campus will also include student intern and/or work study positions to help facilitate the popularity of the program on campus. Marketing and education will be key components to the success of the program. This will include a portable kitchen kiosk for each of the partners used to create enthusiasm, test recipes, and spread the health benefits of kelp.

Partners are committed to programming kelp into the menu at least twice per month in residential dining halls and adding kelp as a choice to retail salad bars in respective outlets. They will also introduce it as a side component at applicable retail sale areas, including soups, salads, and grab-and-go items.

Kelp aquaculture has the potential to become of the fastest-growing components of global food production, due to its ability to adapt to climate change and that kelp farming can offer an array of opportunities to lessen the current food burden.