Method To The Madness
A trio of Northern California women (two of whom are UC Berkeley alumni) founded Salt Point Seaweed in Spring 2017 to harvest seaweed from the Pacific Ocean. They forage, farm, and do research along the California coast to offer the highest quality and most nutritious seaweed, responsibly sourced from the pristine waters of Northern California. Catherine O’Hare talks to host Lisa Kiefer about their business model, the different types of seaweed, and their commitment to ethical, sustainable solutions for humans and our environment.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:00:08] This is Method to the Madness, a bi weekly public affairs show on K A L X Berkeley celebrating Bay Area innovators. I'm your host, Lisa Kiefer. And today, I'm speaking with Catherine O'Hare. She's part of a trio of female entrepreneurs who have started a company called Salt Point Seaweed. Welcome to the program, Catherine. Thank you.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:00:38] I have so many questions for you about this seaweed company, first of all. Are you the only women owned seaweed company in the world?
Catherine O'Hare: [00:00:45] That's a good question. I don't think so. There's a seaweed harvester up in Sonoma County who's a woman. I don't know if her business is all women owned, but there's not many.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:00:55] Are you an alumni of UC Berkeley?
Catherine O'Hare: [00:00:57] No. Tessa and Avery, the other two women, are alumni. They did their grad program here at UC Berkeley. Tessa and I both went to Oberlin College in Ohio for undergraduate.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:01:08] How did you get started in the seaweed business? What inspired you to do this?
Catherine O'Hare: [00:01:13] All three of us have a background in agriculture, so we've always been interested in food. I was a biology major and then worked on farms. So I'd always been interested in local food and healthy food. But it wasn't until moving to the bay now like five or six years ago that I got connected with the seaweed harvester and started learning about all the local seaweeds that we have here on the Northern California coast. I grew up by the ocean in Southern California. So I loved the ocean. I loved the beach. I was always looking for ways to be by the water. They were the first to get involved. Of the trio of founders. Yeah. So we all have a background in agriculture. We also all have some ties to East Africa where we've either worked before or lived before. And there we all saw seaweed farming in Zanzibar.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:01:58] Were you in the Peace Corps?
Catherine O'Hare: [00:01:59] No. I studied abroad there when I was in college, just doing a coastal ecology program. Tessa and Avery both did their graduate program at UC Berkeley and they did a master's in development practice. So it's kind of sustainable international development. So that brought them to East Africa.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:02:17] Did you all meet up over there or did you find out later that you had.
Catherine O'Hare: [00:02:22] We found out later. Tessa and I knew each other from Oberlin. We both ended up in the bay. We each had independent experiences in East Africa. And Avery and Tessa met here at UC Berkeley. And during their during Avery's program here, she did work in East Africa. So we all just kind of had these in our weaving paths. So I was just living and working in the bay, working for a small food company and kind of learning more about seaweed harvesting and doing it as a hobby. And in the meantime, I was good friends with Tessa. So we were talking all the time about all these things related to food, just tossing around ideas about local agriculture systems, herbs, seaweed, farming, like we just were tossing around all these ideas every time we met up. And seaweed was always one of those things, I think because I had seen seaweed farming in Zanzibar and she was interested in these alternative livelihood systems for women all over the world. And so it was during that time where Tessa and Avery were finishing their graduate program here.
Catherine O'Hare: [00:03:23] I was working and exploring where the seaweed on our local coast that we just started delving deeper and deeper into the world of seaweed and talking to everyone we can, emailing people, trying to meet up with people just to learn more about the seaweed industry, about seaweed farming. And it just has kind of.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:03:42] How to harvest and all that?
Catherine O'Hare: [00:03:43] Yeah.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:03:44] So what were your steps?
Catherine O'Hare: [00:03:46] Well, so we're doing our pilot project with Hog Island Oyster Company there in Oyster Farm in Tamales Bay, because the legislation and regulatory agencies are you know, it's a long process to get your own aquaculture permit. So we're doing a research project. This Hog Island Oyster Farm is hosting our pilot, but Hog Island leases from the state, the state waters. So they have aquaculture permit from California Fish and Wildlife. And that's kind of one of the many, you know, permits that they have to be doing aquaculture.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:04:19] Are you going to be a pilot for a long time or how long does that last before you actually have to get your own permits independently?
Catherine O'Hare: [00:04:27] We're still figuring it out. We first talked to Hog Island over two years ago where we just showed up and kind of bounce this idea off them of, you know, we're interested in doing a little pilot to farm seaweed to see how these native species of seaweed grow. Have you ever thought about that? Would you be interested? And so those conversations happened kind of over the course of a year. Meanwhile, we were trying to apply for grants to fund this, I think because Tessa and Avery had this grad school academic background that was kind of the framework that that we knew of how to try to do a project like this.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:05:04] So you got your funding via grant?
Lisa Kiefer: [00:05:06] We applied for one grant through NOAA that was big. It like gave us the structure to really dive in and figure out all the details. We did not get that one, but because it had set us up to really have a project. Then Hog Island was still on board to do this. So we were like, OK, we'll find we'll find other funding. So then we got a smaller grant from California Sea Grant, which is like an affiliate of Noah. And that gave us ten thousand dollars That development grant is just to prepare mostly academics to go after a bigger grant. So it's kind of this like small bundle of money. So we were awarded that and then that really funded the pilot.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:05:48] Have you continued to just use grants or or did you go out into the private equity?
Catherine O'Hare: [00:05:53] No. We. We all put in a little bit of our own money to start. We got another business, small business grant from Oberlin College where Tessa and I went. That was great. That was a huge help. We just finished a Kickstarter a few weeks ago. And other than that, we've just been getting some revenue from our product line of our wild harvested seaweed. So we're kind of...
Lisa Kiefer: [00:06:16] So you're keeping your mission in tact, keeping outsiders out.
Catherine O'Hare: [00:06:19] Yeah. So far, we're also growing very slowly because of that, which is okay with us. We're not we're definitely not the traditional Bay Area business, I think. But yeah. So far, there's no other investment in the company.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:06:32] Okay. This oyster company. What is the relationship between oysters and seaweed?
Catherine O'Hare: [00:06:38] It's a really beautiful symbiotic relationship. Oysters are also filter feeders, so they're filtering the water and making it less cloudy and less murky. So more light can reach the seaweed. And seaweed is a really beneficial. You know, seaweed is just the term for marine macro algae. So any algae that's growing in a marine environment that's like seaweed is kind of this big, vague term.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:07:02] So it's kelp and there's all kinds.
Catherine O'Hare: [00:07:04] Yeah. There's all kinds, kelp or brown seaweeds. There's also green algae and red algae. So what seaweeds do just like land plants, their primary producers, they're absorbing carbon and nitrogen to grow. And so unlike a land plant, that carbon and nitrogen is coming from the water. So in seaweeds, growing in an environment, it's, you know, kind of taking out some of those excess nutrients. Too much carbon in the water is what's leading to ocean acidification. And that's one of the factors that can inhibit shellfish growth. So if the water's too acidic, it's hard for their shells to form when they're young.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:07:39] And seaweed helped with that.
Catherine O'Hare: [00:07:40] Right. So seaweed is making the water. You know, so far the studies done show that it's just in a local area.
Catherine O'Hare: [00:07:46] So right where you're growing the seaweed, there's hope that you can be moderating the P.H. of that water. So making it a little bit less acidic, making the water chemistry a little more balanced for lack of a better word. And also by absorbing nitrogen that helps, you know, too much nitrogen in a marine environment is what causes those harmful algal blooms, though. So the thought is by growing the type of seaweed that you want and then harvesting and getting it out of the environment, you're helping to kind of capture some of that nitrogen before it leads to. It's like using it for the seaweed you want instead of the algae that.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:08:21] It's kind of like seaweed farming.
Catherine O'Hare: [00:08:23] Yeah. What we're doing is technically under the umbrella of aquaculture, but there's a lot of different ways that aquaculture can look. Seaweed and shellfish farming are pretty low input like you need to put physical equipment in the water column. But then there's no feed, there's no additives, there's no additional fertilizer or anything. It's just, you know, they're using sunlight in the case of seaweed, sunlight and the water aquaculture on the other end of the spectrum can be fish farming can be these bigger, more intensive systems. Some of those fish farms, you need to get fish to feed the fish. You have to I mean, I'm sure some add a lot of additives. So, yeah. This word aquaculture really has a big range.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:09:06] OK. Are you testing the water daily? What have you discovered in the short time that you've been in this business about the quality of the Pacific Ocean?
Catherine O'Hare: [00:09:15] That's a great question.
Catherine O'Hare: [00:09:17] We have had to kind of scale back our pilot based on money and time and resources. But the wonderful thing is that Hog Island has been doing partnerships with but Bodega Marine Lab through UC Davis that they get water quality measurements every day. They have these monitors in the water that are constantly giving them feedback. So through that, we've been able to see how the salinity is changing, the PH, the temperature. They're measuring all these things every day.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:09:44] And what are you discovering?
Catherine O'Hare: [00:09:45] Our pilot ran from April of last year till November. So a pretty small window. And really what we saw were just seasonal variations. So like seasonal temperature changes and PH changes not related to our pilot. I think there is concern just in general about ocean acidification. But our pilot was a little too small scale.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:10:05] But you will continue to see any changes. So that's really valuable.
Catherine O'Hare: [00:10:10] Yeah. So right now, that pilot wrapped up in the fall. And just because everything is so unknown, we're kind of taking a pause to see what's next. We're still working with Hog Island, but we're kind of in conversation about what phase two will look like. So, yeah, I think if it were easier to get an aquaculture permit in California, that would be the direction we would want ahead. It's a long and expensicve process in California and, you know, rightfully so we have this beautiful protected coastline.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:10:48] If you're just tuning in, you're listening to Method to the Madness, a bi weekly public affairs show on K A L X Berkeley celebrating Bay Area innovators today, speaking with Catherine O'Hare of Salt Point Seaweed.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:11:09] If you could just walk me through the process of I guess you'd call it farming the seaweed. What would a typical day be like for you three?
Catherine O'Hare: [00:11:18] It's about to be harvest time for our wild harvested products. For the seaweed farming pilot, we harvested mostly in September and October because the species that we grew, we grew throughout the summer and then harvested in the fall. A lot of the kelp farms on the East Coast grow throughout the winter and then harvest in the spring. But the type of seaweed that we did for this pilot is a type of red algae. So not the big long kelps, but a type of red algae called grass grassaleria. It's also called ogo. It's like a kind of a red spindly seaweed. We chose it because it's native to Tamales Bay. It's edible. It's pretty easy to propagate because we were doing this very low tech. And so how we did it was we created little bundles of seaweed.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:12:09] So do you go out there and cut it? Or how do you do it?
Catherine O'Hare: [00:12:11] So we had a permit to wild harvest the initial, you know, seed stock. And then so we harvested we created cut little bundles. And this seaweed is a type that will propagate vegetative. So just by cutting it, it can grow more. So we created little bundles and then out there already, Hog Island had big, long lines that were floating on the surface of the water and anchored to the bottom. You know, there are buoys and each of those buoys were anchored to the bottom. Each of those bundles that we created, we kind of un-twisted the long line to create a little gap in the long line and then shoved the bundle through. And as we let go, the tension of the line would hold the bundle in place. So that's the basic, our basic propagation method. So it was originally wild and then that's how we farmed it onto a line. So then we had a long line out there in Tomales Bay and the bundles of seaweed were kind of growing down from the line. So we were measuring growth rate. So each month we would come back and harvest it and see how much grew. You know, we have this little fishing boat and we just use scissors. We can get really close to the line and just use scissors.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:13:19] And so you don't actually get in the water.
Catherine O'Hare: [00:13:22] Not for this farming pilot. We stayed on a boat. So we're kind of have this split personality where we're all so wild harvesting seaweed and that we do get in the water, that we go at low tide to these rocky coves up on the northern coast and still just using scissors in our hands. But we're on foot and kind of exploring the intertidal when it's really, really low tide.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:13:47] And what kind of seaweed is that called?
Catherine O'Hare: [00:13:49] The re were harvesting three species. Two are kelps. One is a lemonaria. We call that California kombu. And then alaria is California wakame. And then we're also harvesting Nori, which are actually many species that look almost identical. So it's hard to kind of say for sure the exact species, but they're on the genus Pyropia. So those are the three wild harvested seaweeds. We don't harvest any of the giant kelps. Yeah, although species can be sustainably harvested. So you're just kind of pruning the species, so you're cutting it to a certain level and then they'll regrow and regenerate.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:14:29] And so you bring it back to the shore and then what happens?
Catherine O'Hare: [00:14:32] Usually when we're harvesting is far from any road because, you know, we're choosing the most pristine area. So then we hike it up because it's so misty and cold and wet on the coast. We have a drying location that's inland about 45 minutes or an hour so that it's, we can get the hot sunny afternoon and then we dry it in the sun and seaweed roll on a good day, dry by the end of the day. And so that's why the sun is really important.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:14:59] So you can have it in a truck ready to go to market in 24 hours?
Catherine O'Hare: [00:15:03] Selling dry, the low tides are low for many days in a row. So we like, do you know, day after day. But yeah, after harvesting one early morning. By the next day, we could have product ready to go when you're done with that process.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:15:20] When you are done with that project, you have a warehouse here?
Catherine O'Hare: [00:15:20] We have a small storage location in Oakland.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:15:24] OK, yeah. And is that the place from which it's distributed to end users?
Catherine O'Hare: [00:15:29] Yes. Basically, we have so many locations because we're trying to scrape together affordable places, but we have a commercial kitchen that we sublease where we do all the food production so that it's up to California health code.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:15:44] And where is that located?
Catherine O'Hare: [00:15:45] That's in South Berkeley. It's at the Berkeley Kitchens. It's an amazing group of food businesses. We sublet from Cult crackers who make those really amazing gluten free crackers. So we're using their kitchen on nights and weekends. That's where we make our food products. So from there, we, you know, have another storage location where we can do all the shipping and distribution.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:16:07] So do you have to do packaging as well?
Catherine O'Hare: [00:16:09] Mm hmm.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:16:09] There's a lot of pieces to this.
Catherine O'Hare: [00:16:10] There's a lot of pieces to it.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:16:12] How would I find your product as an end user here in the East Bay?
Catherine O'Hare: [00:16:16] We just got into Berkeley Bowl, which was a exciting development a few weeks ago, we're at two farmers markets, the Fort Mason market in the city in San Francisco and every other week we're at the Kensington Market both on Sundays and then when a few stores.. it's growing. But Berkeley Bowl in the city, you we're in Rainbow Grocery. We're at Far West Fun guy's booth in the Ferry Building. We're at Oak Town Spice Shop in Oakland, preserved in Oakland. The whole list is on our Web site. So you can also buy products on our website, which is SaltPointSeaweed.com.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:16:52] You also have recipes on there for using seaweed.
Catherine O'Hare: [00:16:55] Yeah, we have recipes.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:16:56] You also post your research notes or anything.
Catherine O'Hare: [00:16:59] So we're creating this public report from the pilot. We're trying to get it done as soon as possible. And then, yes, that's gonna be on our website. We're kind of gonna distribute that widely because we want the results of this pilot with Hog Island to be distributed and open for people to see. We want it to kind of help tell the story of what seaweed farming could do and how it could, in theory, be a positive benefit to the environment.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:17:23] Tell me about using seaweed. I don't think most people know about the nutrients in seaweed.
Catherine O'Hare: [00:17:30] Each species has slightly different nutritional profile, but in general, seaweeds are just very nutrient dense. So there's a lot of minerals. Almost all seaweeds have iodine and that's a hard especially for vegans. It's a rare mineral to find in high concentrations. Seaweed has vitamin B, calcium, iron. It's just kind of like the super dense food. Seaweeds also have these mineral salts. So instead of sodium chloride, which is table salt, they have these other mineral salts like potassium, which kind of just give it a unique flavor. And I just read this article about the scientists who discovered you umami in Japan back in the nineteen, early nineteen hundreds. That flavor umami is attributed to the glutamate. I hope I'm getting this right, that seaweed is high in. So seaweeds also aside from the nutrition, give food this really savory umami flavor. Partially because of those minerals.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:18:28] So it must be really good in soups.
Catherine O'Hare: [00:18:30] It's great in soups. Yeah. So the types that we sell the kombu is this great bass for broth, for stews, for soups. It's high in that umami. It's high and iodine. So it's adding,I throw it at anything I cook just because it's giving it minerals, nutrients. And this kind of savory flavor combo also helps break down the carbohydrates and beans and legumes that sometimes give us digestive problems. So it helps make beans easier to cook and digest. Kombu's an easy one to to throw in a lot of dishes without thinking about it too much. We also sell California wakame, which is a thinner kelp. It's more mild. It's like Kombu is hard to eat. Just raw because it's thick. Wakame is thinner, so it's easier to just cut up and then throw the pieces in like a stir fry.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:19:19] Or a salad?
Catherine O'Hare: [00:19:20] So yeah, it's great to rehydrate and then make a seaweed salad with. We have some of those recipes on our website. A lot of people come up and take samples at the farmer's market and they're like, oh, that's not, you know, that's not the superintense seaweed flavor I was expecting. I always say that I think the varieties that we harvest here in California are a little bit more mild or maybe it's that they're fresh.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:19:40] I was going to ask you that. What would be the taste difference between the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific and, you know, any other bodies or what have you noticed? Have you done a tasting?
Catherine O'Hare: [00:19:48] You know, I this is a maybe a sad confession. I haven't done too much tasting of East Coast Atlantic seaweeds, just haven't spent much time on the East Coast. Chefs tell us that they can taste a difference between Japanese and Korean grown seaweed and the type that we're growing here. The Nori that we harvest here, they tell us that there's a more mineral, kind of like wild rich taste compared to the Nori that's coming from Japan and Korea. Out of the three of us, Avery has the most culinary background. She was a chef and has background in culinary. I'm learning how to put more culinary words to seaweed. But sometimes, you know, that's a, that's a muscle I'm trying to build.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:20:31] That's when you just say, I like it.
Catherine O'Hare: [00:20:33] Yeah. I love it. I love eating it. Can I describe the differences? I'm working on it.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:20:38] Speaking of Japan and that area, do people worry about the fallout from the Fukushima radioactivity in the waters? Is that a concern?
Catherine O'Hare: [00:20:48] Yeah, we get a lot of questions about that. That's one of the reasons why we're excited and interested in providing California seaweed, because it's harder to trace the seaweed that's coming from Japan and Korea.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:21:00] Don't most seaweeds come from Asia?
Catherine O'Hare: [00:21:02] Yeah. Most edible seaweeds are coming from Korea, China and Japan. There's seaweed grown all over the world, but in the US, over 95 percent of the seaweed eaten is coming from overseas and other, other places. UC Berkeley actually was part of this consortium of UCs that after the two thousand eleven Fukushima disaster started testing the kelp beds from the coast of, like off San Diego to Canada. So for years they were testing the kelp beds and looking for radioactive isotopes and they didn't find any being picked up by the kelp beds.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:21:40] Great.
Catherine O'Hare: [00:21:41] Yeah. So that's good news. And we have you know, we so far can't do our own testing, but we turn to that third party. I'm so grateful that now that they have done that and if anyone's interested, it's called Kelp Watch and you can go to the website and they have all the information there.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:21:55] And a lot of people are allergic to oysters. If your seaweed is in a bed of oysters, do they have to worry about that at all?
Catherine O'Hare: [00:22:03] Good question. We rinse every all the seaweed in saltwater. So if someone's allergic to shellfish, like on our products right now, we have a disclaimer that because it's a wild product, there might be some small sea crustacean that, you know, we can't ever 100 percent confirm that there's no traces of shellfish, but it's not like they're touching or intermingling. We rinse all of the seaweed in fresh seawater.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:22:29] And I wanted to ask you about the challenges that you three have faced in entering this field, whether it's being an all woman business or finding money. You've talked a little bit about that. What are some of the major challenges?
Catherine O'Hare: [00:22:44] Gosh, I think there's a couple different categories. One is that we did start this very slowly and organically and didn't take funding. So we all were working other jobs for the last two years. You know, it's kind of a feedback loop, right? We were working other jobs so grew slower, but it grew slower because we're working other jobs. But just finding access to funding that we would feel good about and that we would still have control of our company. That's been one. I think the Bay right now is a really supportive place to be a woman known business. So we've felt a lot of enthusiasm and encouragement from that. But sure, there are always people who don't take you seriously or don't give you the time of day because you don't look like the typical business person. A big challenge with the seaweed farming pilot that we're doing is that the regulatory process to get our own aquaculture permit is just so long and expensive. That was one of the reasons to do the pilot is to take the results of the pilot. How much carbon and nitrogen the seaweeds absorbing and show it to these regulatory agencies. So have a document that you can go to Fish and Wildlife and California Coastal Commission. But that's been a big challenge because if that were easier, I think we'd be in a different place. And we're definitely supportive of the regulatory agencies. They have a big job and a hard job and are doing the good work of protecting our coast and our resources. You know, I think there's a number that there's been no new aquaculture leases granted offshore in 25 years or 30 years. So there's just no precedent. So that's a big challenge that we're trying to we're trying to address by sharing the results of this pilot.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:24:27] And are you making any money on your product?
Catherine O'Hare: [00:24:29] We are. Right now, we're about breaking even.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:24:32] That's pretty good in a short time.
Catherine O'Hare: [00:24:34] Yeah, I mean, we have low expenses. We're being very scrappy. And, you know, just being at farmers markets mean we have regular sales and regular income and we sell online. We sell our products online. And then we also sell bulk to food restaurants and food businesses. There's a few restaurants that are ongoing supporters and then some businesses like a kimchi company and a bone broth company. So there's been regular sales. So we've been able to keep ourselves going on the wild harvested products and and really, you know, show that there's demand for seaweed and help build the education and awareness around seaweed.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:25:12] Do you have any competitors in this marketplace?
Catherine O'Hare: [00:25:14] There are other wild harvested seaweed companys.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:25:16] Local?
Catherine O'Hare: [00:25:17] Most based in Mendocino County, and they're amazing. Some of them have been doing it since the 80s or the 70s. There's a few other groups, you know, they feel like collaborators who are also trying to do seaweed farming. So there's a duo down in San Diego trying to farm seaweed in the port of San Diego. There's a company called Farmer C in Santa Barbara who's head by Dan Marquez, and we know him really well. So there's other people who are trying to farm seaweed in California, but so far all are at the research stage or the preliminary stage because it's hard to get those permits.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:25:53] So you all share information, I would assume so far.
Catherine O'Hare: [00:25:56] Yeah, it's been very collaborative. We're all trying to you know, we kind of see it like a rising tide, lifts all boats, like it would benefit us all to have easier access and sharing resources. And then there's a lot of Kelp farms starting on the East Coast. Most farms on the East Coast are farming sugar kelp, especially the state of Maine, has made it really streamlined and much easier to get aquaculture permits and start kelp farms. So it's really exciting to see all the progress happening over there. There's kelp farming that's being started in Alaska, so it's starting... California, I think it's gonna be a little bit slower to take off in California because of the regulatory agencies.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:26:33] You're doing a lot of your harvesting in public water. There's boats and you know, the whole idea that there could be motorboats and oil in the water. Yeah, you know, it's complicated.
Catherine O'Hare: [00:26:44] It's definitely complicated. And seaweed. You know, a lot of aquaculture happens in mixed areas like that.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:26:51] So I don't mind a little bit more regulation as a consumer, if it means a higher quality product.
Catherine O'Hare: [00:26:57] Yeah. And seaweeds can absorb you know, they absorb what's in the water. So that's why it's really important that our waters are clean and pristine and as protected as we can have them.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:27:07] What have been some of your best accomplishments?
Catherine O'Hare: [00:27:10] Someone gave us the advice like keep a list in your journal or on your phone of other little firsts like, oh, first time someone emailed about having an internship. So I think we've done a mediocre job at that. But there's been a lot of little accomplishments that feel great. The Kickstarter last month was a big one. We rais..we set our goal at $25000. And I think we ended up raising $42000. And it was really emotional to see so much support come in. So that felt like a very tangible success.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:27:40] Have you gotten any awards or recognition?
Catherine O'Hare: [00:27:42] We have bee n featured in Vogue and on the the website Goop. But it's funny, like the little like Berkeleyside just did a feature on us and that I think resulted in more sales and attention. So you never know which ones are going to end. The Kickstarter did also help with that. It's kind of like this concrete little time pressured event that really helped spread the word. So I think like there are publications that we reached out to for the Kickstarter, but it just resulted in more awareness. But yeah, winning some of these small business grants felt like big accomplishments and we had to, like the one at Oberlin was a competition. So we had to pitch and get judged and people emailing to ask if you're hiring. It's like, I have to be one day, that we can you know, there's like lots of things that feel like accomplishments.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:28:30] What are some of the things coming up? Maybe if you project out a couple of years?
Catherine O'Hare: [00:28:33] So we're definitely still talking with Hog Island about phase two of the pilot. So we're still trying to do research on seaweed farming. We're looking for more grants to fund that, because really what we want to do next is partner with the academic institution and kind of go for a bigger scale project. You know, we're kind of split personality because we're still running the business and creating these food products. Just our time and resources are limited. So we're looking for partners for that. But we hope to be finding ways to sustainably scale, sustainably source our seaweed. We feel like as if we continue to grow our presence and our market demand, that will only help us be in a better position to, you know, to take on some of these issues around seaweed farming.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:29:22] What is your website and can people reach you if they have questions?
Catherine O'Hare: [00:29:25] Yes. So our website is SaltPointSeaweed.com. You can also follow us on Instagram. That's where we give the most updates. We're @SaltpointSeaweed. Yeah, you can reach us on our website. There's an email form. We have products on there. We have recipes. We send out email newsletters. You can sign up for that on our website, too, or we'd send out little fun articles and pictures of our harvest and stuff like that. Seaweed is this amazing resource that grows without land or freshwater. It can be farmed and harvested sustainably. It can be grown abundantly. And I think as the world changes, we're going to need food sources that are sustainable, that are locally grown and that are nutritious. So for us, seaweed is this wonderful resource for that reason.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:30:14] Well, thank you, Katherine, for being on Method to the Madness.
Catherine O'Hare: [00:30:17] Thank you so much for having me.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:30:22] You've been listening to Method to the Madness, a bi weekly public affairs show on K A L X Berkeley celebrating Bay Area innovators. You can find all of our podcasts on iTunes University. We'll be back again in two weeks.