From an aquafarm in Flinders come delicious and sustainably cultivated kelp products.

Off the coast of Flinders, at the southern end of the Mornington Peninsula, 70km southeast of Melbourne, lies one of Australia’s first kelp farms. In its first season, it covers less than 50 square meters and, from land, appears as a series of buoys bobbing in the water.

Suspended from those buoys is a network of ropes on which masses of kelp have been planted. Native to local waters, it is harvested, dried, and sold to chefs, restaurants, health food stores and independent retailers.  

This is the first kelp farm from Southern Seagreens, a Dromana-based company and the brainchild of Cam Hines, a former co-owner of Mountain Goat Brewery. He grew up snorkelling around Flinders and remembers the kelp forests that once dominated the coast. Sadly, those underwater havens have since been devastated by sea urchin invasions and changes in water temperature. 

Hines teamed up with ex-army diver Bert Cross and scientist Dr Rob Brimblecombe to breed kelp from the few wild kelp patches that remain around Port Phillip and Western Port. They cultivate the juvenile kelp in large tanks in a lab in Dromana. The kelp spore is settled on ropes that are then taken to the farm at Flinders. It takes just over six months for the kelp to grow to harvestable size. 

In Port Phillip, the team also harvests an invasive seaweed from Japan called Undaria and processes it to make wakame. 

While it’s early days for Southern Seagreens, the team is already producing umami-rich, air-dried wakame and full-flavoured air-dried kelp smoked over local tea tree, which adds an earthy, umami, slightly smoky flavour to stocks and dishes. 

Products: Chili kelp seasoning, dried wakame, ground seaweed, furikake