Mercury (Hobart) - Magazine - - Upfront - WORDS PENNY McLEOD PHOTOGRAPHY CHRIS KIDD

Mar­rawah farmer and bull kelp har­vester Stafford Heres likes storms – par­tic­u­larly when they de­liver bull kelp to the shores be­tween Bluff Hill Point and Temma where he’s li­censed to col­lect it.

“We get ex­cited when we hear a storm is com­ing,” Heres says. “When the kelp is washed ashore we can get two to three tonnes in a day. We only col­lect it fresh and it smells beau­ti­ful.

“They say it’s a veg­etable of the sea and I guess that’s true. I chew on it raw while I’m out col­lect­ing. It tastes pretty nice, like Sam­boy chips.”

Heres, pic­tured “on a cold, win­try day” last year at a for­mer kelp col­lec­tion point at West Point, owns Mar­rawah Gold, which ex­ports bull kelp emul­sion for use in fer­tilis­ers for viti­cul­ture and horticulture around the world.

Though he loves the prod­uct and finds it easy to han­dle – “fresh kelp isn’t slip­pery” – he prefers to col­lect it in warmer weather.

“We col­lect over the win­ter, but it’s eas­ier to col­lect it in au­tumn and spring when the weather’s nice and we don’t have to wear coats and wa­ter­proof gear,” Heres says.

“So far this year, we’ve col­lected about 180-190 tonnes (of an av­er­age 300 tonnes a year).

“We’ve had a fan­tas­tic au­tumn and win­ter, and we’re just start­ing to come into the re­ally good-qual­ity kelp now.”

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