Port of San Diego approves new seaweed farming project

Scientists say Kelp can be the new Kale

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — The next great food craze could come from the waters of the San Diego Bay. A pair of scientists is planting a seaweed farm in the bay, to test the plant's marketability for use as food, animal feed, fertilizer, and bio-fuel.

"Kelp is the new kale," says Torre Polizzi, one of the owners of Sunken Seaweed.

Polizzi and his partner Leslie Booher just got a $137,000 grant from the Port of San Diego to start a test-farm in the bay. They'll get 4,000 square feet of water off the end of the Grape Street Pier to use for their plants.

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It's part of the Port's "Blue Economy" project, which is designed to help incubate new businesses along the waterfront.

"San Diego needs to take notice of the ocean economy," says Port CEO Rafel Castellanos. "We're incredibly optimistic, we believe in ocean optimism, and we're looking forward to really developing this sector."

The seaweed industry can be incredibly lucrative. It's worth $10 billion in the US already, and market experts expect that to more than double by 2025.

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"We've already had great success with local chefs," says Booher. "They're wildly supportive of using kelp and seaweed in their dishes."

The farm will be entirely underwater and be filled with several species of seaweed. Booher and Polizzi say they want to use the next year to determine the best way to grow kelp. 

"I hope we can create something out of nothing," says Polizzi. "Right now it's just a muddy-bottomed area by a pier. Hopefully, in a year's time, we'll see a nice little ecosystem while also creating an economy around that."

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