This month we welcomed a very special guest speaker to visit some of our school partners. Alanna Kieffer, marine biologist and seaweed farmer, taught students about seaweed, their importance both for the ecosystem and our food system, and let students try some pacific dulse seaweed that she farms at the Oregon Seaweed farm located in Garibaldi. Alanna has spent the last decade committed to coastal education and exploration, and has recently launched her own company, Shifting Tides NW, offering workshops on coastal foraging and environmental education.
Alanna visited preschoolers at Tillamook Early Learning Center and second to fifth graders at Garibaldi Grade School. Earlier this month, we had a school-wide local food tasting at Garibaldi Grade School, that featured Oregon Seaweed pacific dulse, giving students a little taste before diving deeper with Alanna. Although students tried seaweed in its raw form during our tasting, seaweed is very versatile and can be cooked and enjoyed in various ways. To showcase this versatility, Alanna teamed up with two other passionate seaweed and local food system advocates, Rachelle Hacmac and Kristen Penner to create Winter Waters, an Oregon-based regenerative seafare series in February to celebrate local seafood and sea veggies. Last month, Winter Waters partnered with chefs and tastemakers to create unique and scrumptious culinary experiences, with an emphasis on farmed sea vegetables including wakame, kombu, sea lettuce, and dulse. For some recipe ideas, visit: https://www.oregonseaweed.com/category/recipes/
Aside from seaweed being a highly nutritional food, it is a climate friendly crop that goes a step beyond sustainable agriculture, into “regenerative agriculture". It requires no land, no fossil-fuel based inputs, or freshwater! Needing only fresh seawater and sunshine to thrive. According to Oregon Seaweed: “dulse seaweed is a carbon negative: for every four-pounds of seaweed grown, one-pound of carbon is sequestered.”
Later this month, we are planning a field trip to the Port of Garibaldi, where students will visit the Oregon Seaweed farm allowing students experience the full cycle of this local food and grow a deeper appreciation for the richness of local food diversity in our coast.