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Kelp harvesting on the upswing in Connecticut's waters

Eaweed – it’s not just for sushi anymore. At least that’s the idea behind Connecticut’s growing kelp-farming industry, where entrepreneurs like Norwalk’s J.P. Vellotti are betting that the product will revolutionize not just the culinary scene, but also the medicinal/pharmaceutical and even the energy fields.

“It’s still such a new field here,” said Vellotti, a longtime employee of Norwalk oyster supplier Norm Bloom and Son; that firm partnered with him to create East Coast Kelp Farms, where Vellotti is general manager.

“We wanted to get in early,” Vellotti said. “I give a lot of credit to the state of Connecticut — they saw the potential and had the forethought to put the licensing process in place.”

Vellotti’s is one of five new farms that the state Department of Agriculture has licensed to grow kelp this year, nearly doubling the number of firms working the kelp beat in Connecticut. Another, Atlantic Clam Farms of Connecticut Inc. in Greenwich, is awaiting approval.