Maine Coast Sea Vegetables began in 1971
Our company was born in 1971 over a pot of seaweed miso soup in the kitchen of Linnette and Shep Erhart overlooking Hog Bay in Franklin, Maine. They had just harvested and cooked their first alaria fronds and found the soup delicious! News of the discovery spread to friends... and they told their friends...
From two people producing 200 pounds in 1971, there are now about 40 people harvesting and drying approximately 100,000 pounds of sea vegetables annually. Another year-round crew of 20 sort, pack, and market our sea vegetables at our new plant in Hancock, Maine.
We offer eight organically certified North Atlantic varieties: alaria, dulse, kelp, laver, sea lettuce, irish moss, rockweed and bladderwrack. They are harvested directly from their beds at low tides, dried at low temperatures by sun, wood or forced hot air, (some are milled) and then packaged. We also import well-tested Organic Nori sheets from China.
Milestones in Our Business
- 1985: We test many of our plants for 25 major nutritional factors. See our Nutritional Chart.
- 1986: Our consumer package now offers detailed nutritional analysis, usage guidelines and recipes.
- 1988: We are the first to initiate annual testing of plants for possible contaminants when ocean pollution became a concern.
- 1992: Maine Coast Sea Vegetables is the first processor world-wide to receive organic certification for its harvesting and handling procedures.
- 1992: We move to a renovated 9,500 square foot facility in Franklin, just a few miles from our original home at the head of Frenchman's Bay.
- 2004: We are one of three Socially Responsible Business Award winners. The 10th Annual Awards were presented in conjunction with Natural Products Expo East in Washington, DC. See our Press Release.
- 2010: Maine Coast Sea Vegetables was featured in videos produced for national cable television shows, America's Heartland and Food Crafters. Click here to see the Harvest Videos.
- 2012: The Kushi Institute International awarded us the Aveline Kushi Award for our "enduring dedication and support of Macrobiotics."
- 2013: We received, in conjunction with the Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research and Maine Technology Institute, a seed grant for "Seeding Technologies for Sea Vegetables."
- 2013: We set our first Kelp, Alaria and Dulse aquaculture lines in our local bay, part of an ongoing local sea vegetable farming project.
- 2014: After almost a year of planning, we starting building our new 18,000 sq. ft. facility in Hancock. We plan to move in the summer of 2015. This new facility we allow us to further community education efforts, create new products and work more efficiently.
- 2014: We set our first Laver aquaculture line to our test farm, along with our second small crop of Kelp, Alaria and Dulse. Growing our local Laver on lines or nets is the first step towards a long term goal of making the first ever Atlantic based “Nori sheet”.
- 2015: We joined in the local school system's “Farm to Table” movement. In March, with the help of Agriculture in the Classroom program, we assisted in educating a number of local first grade classes (this was a statewide educational block however) in learning about seaweeds and how they grow. We are excited to continue the work of helping kids learn about the value of this local and super nutritious resource in the classroom.
- 2015: In September, after 22 years in Franklin, Maine we moved into a new, more spacious and efficient facility in Hancock, just 12 miles away.
Innovations in Sea Vegetable Products
- Sea Seasonings® These convenient shakers were our first venture into ready-to-use products featuring ground sea vegetables offered plain or blended with spices and herbs.
- Sea Chips™ America's first corn tortilla chips seasoned with sea vegetables — no salt added! In summer 2014, due to manufacturing issues, we discontinued this product.
- Kelp Krunch™ These lightly sweetened snack bars are our first foray into sea vegetables as fun food. Kids of all ages love them — which is a good sign!
Our mission is twofold: to provide high quality North Atlantic sea vegetables as user-friendly foods, supported by reliable information; and to build respectful, long-term relationships with our customers, suppliers, employees and the environment.
Principles & Practices
To the best of our individual and collective abilities, we pursue our mission with honesty, accountability, patience and care. We understand that these gifts from the sea come with the responsibility to maintain sustainable practices in harvesting, processing and merchandising — leaving more than we harvest, producing more than we consume, and giving back more than we take.
With our enthusiasm, we encourage the rediscovery of this ancient food source from the sea. With our personal and traditional knowledge, we share what we have learned from our native sea vegetables and from people worldwide who have used them for centuries. With our curiosity, we learn from our customers what they already know or need to know. And with our ingenuity and respect, we intend to thrive into the 21st century.