GreenWave, founded by Maine ocean farmers Emily Stengel and Bren Smith, has been working with coastal communities throughout North America to create a blue green economy — built and led by regenerative ocean farmers.
The company’s 10-year goal is to provide training, tools, and support to a baseline of 10,000 regenerative ocean farmers. By that time, they intend to have catalyzed the planting of 1 million acres of macroalgae and yielded meaningful economic and climate impacts. GreenWave’s Kelp Climate Fund (KCF) is the key to making this all happen.
The Kelp Climate Fund, now in its 2nd year, supports farmers in their critical role as leaders in building a new blue green economy. The Fund provides trainings and support for fishermen, indigenous groups, and other under-resourced coastal communities directly impacted by climate change.
GreenWave and the KCF also provide direct payments to recognize the benefits of the farmers’ work, which includes carbon and nitrogen removal and ecosystem restoration. Additionally, the programs help to connect ocean farmers with entrepreneurs to bring sustainably raised seaweed- and shellfish-based products to market.
In return, farmers provide key monitoring data on out-planting, growth rates, and harvest yields.
Stewart Hunt’s Casco Bay Mooring ocean farm is one of 39 small and medium-sized farms participating in GreenWave’s KCF during the 2022-2023 season — up from just nine who participated in last year’s program launch. This year, thanks to financial supporters of the 501-(c)-3 nonprofit, the Fund will pay out over $300,000 in seed subsidies to farms in Alaska, British Columbia, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Nova Scotia, and Rhode Island.
For some of this year’s new participants, KCF subsidies are helping emerging farms stay afloat as they navigate a still-evolving market. “The seed money is having a huge impact,” says Thea Thomas of Royal Ocean Kelp Co. “It’s saving us from going farther into the red this year.”
For others, it’s an opportunity to invest in new farm infrastructure and scale production. Using KCF subsidies to buy gear, Noble Ocean Farms Co-Founder and President Skye Steritz was able to outplant nearly double the number of feet of seed string this year. “We now have 30 grow lines in the water, up from 16 lines last season,” she reports.
Fund participants are using GreenWave’s newly launched My Kelp app to track out-planting and growth, record samples, and estimate climate impacts. Shinnecock Kelp Farmer Tela Troge plans to leverage the app’s climate impact data to cultivate support from funders and her community.
Since launching their first regional training program in 2017, GreenWave has trained and supported more than 900 emerging ocean farmers and hatchery technicians. They are working to build the Kelp Climate Fund to $1 million, supporting 250 farmers annually, by 2025.
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