Ocean Approved was founded in 2006 by Tollef Olson, with the goal of creating the first US based seaweed farms and for creating innovative premium seaweed products for the US market.
Seaweed is one of the most nutritious vegetables that's grown on the face of the earth. Depending on the seaweed it's going to have more calcium than milk, more fiber than brown rice, more iron than spinach, and we can grow it without using any fresh water, arable land, or fertilizers. Kelp is a counter-seasonal crop. It grows in the winter, so we seed our farms in the fall and we harvest in the spring. And there is significant unemployment along the working waterfront in the winter, so we think it's a natural fit for this coast to be able to create some good paying jobs and allow people to do what they love to do, which is work on the water.
One of the reasons that we chose to come back to GMRI for our second round of research is the collaboration that can take place here given the other groups that are in the facility. So for instance, we have worked with Fish Vet, another for-profit company that is down the hall from us, and we were able to use some of their expertise in pathology to solve some of the challenges that we were having with our seaweed. We felt that there was tremendous opportunity to bring this industry to the US, and Maine specifically.