So we hear you’re interested in learning more about how our kelp is farmed. Welcome to the world of seaweed farming, where the ocean’s potential is transformed into the salty, flavor-packed seaweed seasoning that elevates your culinary creations. This basic guide will illuminate the path of seaweed from seeding to harvest to kitchen and give you insight into the inner workings of its cultivation, specifically here at Daybreak.

What Type of Seaweed Do We Use?

The farmers we work with cultivate West Coast Wakame, or Alaria marginata. This is the seaweed species that makes up the base of all of our seaweed flakes, salts, and seasonings. We also source Whole Leaf Kombu, Whole Leaf Costaria, and Whole Leaf Dulse that we sell as large strips of dried kelp in kraft bags. Wakame, Kombu and Costaria are all types of brown seaweeds, or kelp. While Wakame is cultivated (seeded in an onshore nursery and out-planted on long lines), the Kombu and Costaria we source are wild-set, which means that they naturally volunteer on the gear of oyster farms, like weeds in a garden. Lucky us, because these prolific growers happen to be big, beautiful, edible kelp species.

Where is the kelp farmed? 

The family farms we work with are mostly located in Southern and South-East Alaska, from Ketchikan area in the south to Homer area. This state has the longest coastline in the United States, with water temperatures ranging from 20°C in the summer to ice covered, freezing water in the north. Some of the largest kelp beds in the world are found in Alaska because of its cold and fertile waters. 

Back in 2020, we committed to working exclusively with regenerative West Coast ocean farmers. This means that the seaweed and kelp are grown in the ocean using long lines, oyster gear, or shellfish bags. These methods avoid wild-harvesting kelp ecosystems and avoid the use of freshwater, arable land, fertilizers, pesticides or feed and in turn provides habitats for sea creatures while sequestering 20 times more carbon from the atmosphere than any land-based forest

How is kelp farmed? 

The farmers we work with are experts in navigating waters that are known for hazardous weather and challenging ocean conditions. If you’re curious about learning more about what it’s like as a kelp farmer, check out this blog post from one of our farmers, Sea Grove Kelp that explores a day in the life of kelp cultivation. Over on their blog, they also illuminate the fascinating process of kelp inoculation. Did you know that it only takes eight, 5-gallon buckets to populate the entire kelp farm and produce tens of thousands of pounds of new biomass? Learn more about the process led by Dr. Tiffany Stephens here

How Does the Kelp Get from Coast to Kitchen?

Once the kelp is harvested by boat, it has to be processed – either by drying, freezing, or preserving – quickly. A fresh product with a short shelf life, fresh kelp can only be stored in cold storage for a few days. Different farmers that we work with process the kelp in different ways. For some of our partners, drying isn't possible, so we take on the hair-pulling logistics of transporting, processing, drying, and milling the kelp – as the industry in Alaska develops processing infrastructure. 

Why Choose Seaweed? 

The use of seaweed in our food systems has countless benefits to marine ecosystems, human health, and flavor enhancement. Here at Daybreak, we get to play an integral role in enhancing your quality of life through unforgettable and nutrient dense food experiences. We hope you cherish the secrets that seaweed carries, and hold fast (get it?) onto the plethora of benefits it provides as a precious food source for you and your loved ones.