For four seasons, Lisa Moore and her boyfriend, Donnie Freeman, have been harvesting the wild seaweed called digitata in the waters of Casco Bay in the months when they aren’t lobstering or scallop diving. But now she’s going into seaweed farming, with plans to sell to Ocean Approved once she gets a lease. The company, which literally wrote the book – OK, manual – on how to grow seaweed, recently raised $500,000 to expand its processing capacity, thus opening the door for purchasing agreements with more farmers like Moore. We talked to Moore about some of the other jobs she’s had (hairdresser!), eating seaweed and why aquaculture feels like the future to her.

IN THE PIPELINE: Moore called from the wharf at Bailey Island’s Mackerel Cove, where Freeman keeps his boat, and explained that she’s a farmer without land, so to speak. She’s still working on getting a lease from the Maine Department of Marine Resources to grow sugar kelp. “It is like an eight-month process,” she said. “There is a pre-application to the application and then you have meetings. I have to scout my area, and you have to make sure it is the right depth.” Which would be? About 18 feet. Paul Dobbins, one of the founders and owners of Ocean Approved, is helping her. “Without Paul I’d be like ‘What am doing?’ ” Moore said.

HORSEPOWER: Meanwhile, she bought herself a boat, a 39-footer without an engine. She’s working on the engine she plans to put in it. Motors aren’t new to her. “I love mechanics as a hobby,” she said. “I work on my own truck. I used to race cars. I used to race at the Wiscasset Speedway. I land in very interesting places.”

NOT HER FIRST SEAWEED RODEO: She’s also practiced by putting in hours working on Ocean Approved’s farm off Chebeague. She even tried processing. “The kelp wraps, for sushi. It’s hard. You can’t break them.” A door started to open, mentally, where she could visualize making a business for herself out of this. “I realized, after so many years, I am never going to be a lobsterman,” she said. She’s Freeman’s sternman, but the wait time for a license is too long – it took Freeman 10 years to get his. “All your fisheries are just closed off,” she said – except for seaweed. “I knew they were trying to get more people into aquaculture, and I thought this would be very cool for me.”

HAIR CARE: Her mother grew up in West Point in a family of lobstermen. Her father’s father was from North Bath and had a farm. “My grandfather farmed his own food, from his meat to his vegetables to apples. I say I am combining both of my family heritages.” Other jobs she’s had? Hairdresser. “I had my own shop, LJ’s Hair Shop. I opened it up because I am raising my son alone and I said, ‘I need a day job where I can have him.’ I am a girl that loves a project. After going to hair school and taking that on, I made sure I was there every day. Some girls take a day off, but I was there every day.”

MEET CUTE: How does one get from cutting hair to pulling traps and shucking scallops? She knew Freeman through friends and saw him when he worked the door at a favorite bar. One day he called her up and asked if she had any available appointments. He had “gorgeous long hair,” and she wasn’t sure what to do to improve it. “I said, what about a sun highlight, like when the sun bleaches out your hair?” He was pleased enough with the results to offer her a tip and a dinner invitation. “The rest is history. We make a good pair.” She started going out on the water with him regularly and a year ago took on the job of selling his scallops. She gave up her hair salon and hasn’t looked back. “People wonder, when I go lobstering, they say, ‘Isn’t that hard on your back?’ But it’s not as hard as standing all day, and going out on the water gives you such a mental peace.”

LIFE LESSONS: When they harvest the wild kelp, digitata, together, Freeman dives for it, fills up the bags and sends them up to her. She shakes off snails and does a quality check before packing it in coolers. “I am the inspector of the kelp. I look at every plant that goes in.” Her hope is that she’ll be able to teach her 11-year-old son the business when she starts farming. He’s going to the Harpswell Coastal Academy next year, and Moore aims to make a connection between the charter school, which does extensive gardening, and her seaweed farm. “I love the education (aspect) of it.”

ON THE MENU: There’s always a story of the fisherman who doesn’t eat his catch, but that’s not Moore. Both the digitata and sugar kelp are now a part of her diet. “We like to dry it up and grind it up and put it on our food, kind of like a spice.” Or as with salt and pepper, something automatic she reaches for. When friends express surprise, she asks them, “Do you take a multivitamin?” Seaweed is her version of a vitamin. Her son is a picky eater, but she’s sneaking it into his food. “You could sneak it in anything with a darker color to it. I put it in chili one day.” Everyone loved it. “Where if I told them, they probably would not have eaten it.” She’s brewing up some ideas for marketing dry kelp on her own. And still slightly surprised by this turn of events. “I never, ever thought of eating seaweed. You know how, if it is not something you grow up with …” But as she’s learned, that doesn’t mean you can’t grow old with it.

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