The largest permitted commercial kelp farm in the state quietly exists about a half mile off Harding’s Beach in Chatham.
Since it got its start late in 2018 it has been slowly growing, literally and figuratively, mostly under the radar (as well as the water) because it is a winter crop. So when most people are in the water during the warmer months of May through October, the co-owners of Chatham Kelp – Jamie Bassett, Carl Douglass and Richard Curtiss – are already gone.
The harvest lives on, finding its way into the artfully-created meals of local chefs, beauty products, even beer. The company has grown so successful that they are looking for others to help in the enterprise so they can cultivate a few more lines.
We were able to spend time on the water as the trio brought in this year’s crop and also as it was packed up after drying in a greenhouse. This photo gallery helps tell the tale of this spring’s crop.
Richard Curtiss, one of the co-owners of Chatham Kelp, hauls in the harvest earlier this month. Photo by Doreen Leggett.
Carl Douglass, one of the trio of shellfishermen who started the kelp company, peers out from behind a string of kelp. Courtesy photo.
Kelp can be used in everything from salads to beer to soap. Doreen Leggett photo.
Jamie Bassett and Richard Curtiss harvest kelp on a recent spring day. Kelp is a winter crop. Doreen Leggett photo.
This was the first year Chatham Kelp opted to dry the harvest, the owners of Pine Tree Nursery let them use their greenhouse. Doreen Leggett photo.
Chatham Kelp is going in a different direction with this year’s crop and much of it will be made into luxury soap at Alantic Soap Company. Mermaids on Main in Chatham plans on selling it come fall. Doreen Leggett photo.
Carl Douglass and Richard Curtiss, in the Chatham Kelp sweatshirt, get ready to bring another tote of seaweed into the greenhouse. Doreen Leggett photo.
Chef Michael Ceraldi, who owns Ceraldi’s in Wellfleet, was so impressed with Chatham Kelp he featured it (with scallops from Provincetown) in a meal he made at the James Beard Foundation in New York. Photo by Michael Ceraldi.