July 07, 2023
While some view seaweed as a nuisance, Nautical Farms understands the immense power and potential of the plant and ensure that Maine has access to the highest quality seaweed products around.
Describe your business in one sentence.
Nautical Farms is a regenerative ocean farm in Maine supporting the health & wellness of people and the planet through organic seaweeds as superfoods & skincare.
What unique perspective/skills do you bring to your business?
Jake and Morgan each have unique strengths that play off each other really well. Jake grew up on the water. He is a great hands on builder and fisherman. He understands a lot about what happens below the surface of the ocean- how the tides work, what the bottom looks like, the best equipment to put in certain areas to achieve the best results. He’s also really good at finances & budgeting. Morgan, on the other hand, brings to the table creative abilities, product development, marketing & photography skills, and website design.
What were the biggest challenges you faced in starting your business? In running it?
We’ve never been a business focused on growth for the sake of growth. Every decision we’ve made has been weighted heavily to consider if it is sustainable for us, for our community, for our customers, and for the planet. That will never go away, but it does pose a unique set of challenges. Finding packaging that fits our vision but is plastic free, compostable or reusable has been a huge undertaking. I’m proud of where we have ended up with our packaging so far, but it hasn’t been easy and sometimes we’ve had to adjust our vision in order to stay sustainable. We’ve also had to figure out how to strategically scale our operations without compromising our values.
Did CEI help you overcome any of these challenges? Describe how you have worked with our team.
CEI has been instrumental in our growth over the last year. We worked with Peter Piconi to better solidify and understand our overall business objectives and create a plan for moving forward. We also have secured funding through CEI to pay for some large scale growth we will implement this spring like constructing a greenhouse for better drying operations.
What are your hopes for your business in the next 1–3 years?
Our hopes for the next 1-3 years are to expand our growing and drying operations, launch a handful of new products, as well as secure new partnerships with restaurants and shops that will add our seaweeds to the menu and our products to their stores.
What steps are you taking to reduce your business’s carbon footprint and/or make your business environmentally sustainable? What might make it easier to improve your business’s environmental sustainability or climate resilience?
Every part of our business is sustainable. The idea that we could contribute to a healthier planet is why we started Nautical Farms in the first place. Our seaweeds are organically certified and regeneratively grown using a 3D ocean farming model in the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Maine. In the spring, we harvest by hand and dry by sun in greenhouses before crafting and packaging into beautiful, reusable or compostable containers.
In your opinion, what makes a job a good job? How are you providing good jobs for yourself and your employees?
We believe our commitment to quality is part of what makes us sustainable. Seaweeds are hardy but during certain parts of the process, can be sensitive. From start to finish great care goes into growing, harvesting, drying, and packaging our seaweed. Farm location plays a great role in the overall success of growing seaweed. It affects how much you may yield, but it also plays a pivotal role in what the nutritional value of your seaweed ends up being. Our location is really special and provides all of the elements you need to grow great seaweed. We test our seaweed for heavy metals, and ensure that they are within safe consumption ranges. After our seaweed is harvested, it is stored at optimal temperatures until it is brought directly into the sun to dry. Keeping the seaweed cool until it’s in the sun, ensures that it doesn’t begin to decompose.
Looking to Start or Grow Your Business?
You have big ideas. Our business experts are here to help you succeed. Through workshops, peer groups and one-on-one advising, we help people across the state get the information and support they need to start or grow their Maine business. In addition to providing general assistance to businesses at any stage, CEI has experts in child care and both marine and land-based food harvesting, growing and value-added production businesses, as well as tailored programs for women and immigrants and refugees.