Helping to establish kelp farms


Wendy Moore had a hand in helping Sue Wicks develop her kelp farm.

She is also doing it for others.

“Last fall, I drafted a slide deck explaining the infrastructure needed for processing kelp,” Moore said of her company, Lazy Point Farms. “I sent it to the oyster growers in Islip. I also sent it to growers in Brookhaven, but told those in both towns, you should share it with your local leaders so they could advocate for this. Islip Town wanted to see reliable harvests, some landing of a lot of kelp, before they committed. But Brookhaven Town started working right away with Sue.”

“Wendy is working with Sue Wick,” confirmed Brookhaven Town supervisor Dan Panico. “I was introduced to Wendy last year at the Mastic Beach Conservancy meeting at their annual gala, and in doing research, this felt like a no-brainer expansion of aquaculture. We’ll allow her to place the containers for a final drying stage at the town highway yard.  We’ll be drawing up an agreement through our law department; we’ve identified the area, and there will be a nominal fee.”

In 2020-21, Moore reached out to Wicks and asked if she wanted to grow kelp.

“At the beginning, we were reaching out to growers,” Moore said. “Any growers who could get permits in waterways. David Berg helped us. (Berg is a coastal science and aquaculture consultant and heads up DLB Planning LLC.) He used to work on the Long Island Nitrogen Action Plan for the Long Island Regional Planning Council and has a background in aquaculture. We worked closely together for three years; [Berg] has a lot of connections and helped forged matchups. Then we were starting to get emails from people.”

“With regard to permitting, he has the best command for that. I send growers to him for help.”

Moore explained the procedure.

“The first thing is preparing the permit paperwork and getting that to the three different agencies because the turnaround is long,” she said. “Then you have to identify your site ability—for example, are you in a place with enough water flow. Stephen Schott, a marine botanist at the Cornell Cooperative Extension, has a good knowledge of where kelp can grow and if it will work or not.”

Gear includes kelp lines, lines that are submersible, and spools or PVC pipes.

“You have to dive for the source tissue or reproductive tissue in the fall,” Moore said. “The kelp tissue, once water is cooler, is brought up. Then it’s like a lab procedure for tissue that releases spores. They’re very tiny and microscopic. You attach them to a very thin string, wrapped around the spool. That fits in the tank and stays for five weeks.” It’s all done in hatcheries, including town hatcheries, Hart Lobster in West Sayville, and also Cornell Cooperative Extension around November.

“When they are ready, the farmer picks them up,” she said. “You have anchors and lines, and it grows by itself over the winter.”

In terms of the Brookhaven Town agreement, “I drafted a grant agreement,” Moore said. “They find the land, facilitate where it goes, and I buy all of the equipment. The agreement with Sue, I think they are leasing the property to Sue for her to use it.”

The equipment is staging equipment, a two-phase processing.

“We need to dry it as quickly as possible and get it into flakes or powder for later,” said Moore. “You can spray it on plants to increase the benefits, like at a winery, or into the soil in powder or flakes.”

The kelp initiative started when Moore and her husband, Justin, came up with how to best make a positive impact during the pandemic. They were living in Amagansett at that time.

They formed Lazy Point Farms LLC and now live in Hudson Yards. Their LLC provides structural, educational, and logistical support to advance sugar kelp farming.

“We were working hard on developing a farm, but the lack of a local leasing program forced us to pivot. We still wanted to support this work, but the more we learned, the more we realized our efforts would be more efficient if we spent them on resources.”


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