Originally harvesting seaweed by hand for artisanal food and bath products, SeaGrown have seized the opportunity to transform into a commercial seaweed farming company. By establishing a seaweed farm in the open waters of the North Sea, SeaGrown aims to produce a local and sustainable seaweed crop to be used in a variety of ways by customers from a range of industries.
Seaweed is a uniquely versatile product, and the new farm will work on producing three kinds of native kelp that can be used in the bioplastic, biotextile and pharmaceutical markets. It also has the benefit of requiring just two things to grow - the sea and the sun. SeaGrown is committed to creating fully sustainable seaweed crops from only natural existing resources; using no chemicals, power, fresh water or land. The company's innovative offshore seaweed farm produces British-grown sustainable seaweed crops, with products supporting a fairer, greener and stronger economy.
Ultimately, the conditions for spore reproduction can be recreated in a tank before ropes carrying juvenile seaweed are taken to the offshore site and the seaweed is harvested three months later. By harvesting a seaweed crop SeaGrown has created a sustainable option for carbon sequestration as the crop takes up carbon whilst simultaneously producing oxygen; vital for marine life, and helps purify the water and protects the seabed.
SeaGrown is taking its sustainability practices a stage further by developing new ways of adding shellfish to its offshore seaweed farm. The shellfish and seaweed will work together to create a habitat and environment which is mutually beneficial. The seaweed produces oxygen which supports the shellfish, who then produce nutrients which support the growth of the seaweed. A number of sources, including the Coastal Communities Fund, have financed a boat for the creation and licensing of a 25 hectare farm site in the North Sea.
Wave Crookes, the founder of SeaGrown, explained, "We are busy developing our farm operations, rising to challenges posed by working in the wild North Sea. We are currently working on the latest addition to the SeaGrown fleet - a ship which we will bring to Scarborough to house our business, and provide an opportunity to show the wider public what we are doing."
SeaGrown recognises the unique position it's in to produce an exciting range of products which genuinely support a circular economy and lead the way in the UK seaweed harvesting industry as a circular business.
Useful learnings from SeaGrown
When working in natural landscapes, care is key; when we started SeaGrown, we had to obtain permission from Natural England to be able to harvest, and work carefully with the landowners to ensure we could operate without harming the natural environment. We began by harvesting with scissors by hand, but realised that we had to change our approach to be able to move beyond a purely artisanal market. While seaweed is a naturally occurring material, there are limited sustainable supplies of it because of its growth cycle, and harvesting natural wild stock is often not the most cost-effective approach. Seaweed boasts a number of natural environmental benefits so the challenge for SeaGrown is to ethically produce local and sustainable seaweed crops fit for innovative uses across a range of environmentally friendly industries.
"SeaGrown is pleased to be able to contribute towards the circular economy in our region. Some businesses will find the transition into circular methods of operating more challenging than others, but we would encourage all enterprises to adopt circular practices wherever they can. By doing so, they can feel proud to be enhancing society and helping to safeguard the environment we all live and work in." (direct quote from Wave Crookes, founder).
Amount of carbon stored.