In 2018 Joanne Lane, of Central Tilba, won a prestigious Churchill Fellowship enabling her to further research the kelp industry. The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust has awarded $3.1 million worth of Churchill Fellowships to 112 Australians in 2018. The 2018 Fellowships addressed challenges Australia was facing by recognising experts across fields and funding them to travel internationally, to gather insights and knowledge that will benefit Australia. Already well known throughout the region for her passion for kelp Joanne Lane told The Beagle at the time: "My Churchill Fellowship is to investigate kelp- farming operations overseas and bring that information back to Australia. I will travel to USA, Canada, Norway, Scotland and Ireland to meet with kelp farmers, scientists and small business owners like me. This is an incredible opportunity made possible by the generous support of the Yulgilbar Foundation, which supports Churchill projects with a regional and environmental focus."
"I am a marine biologist and completed my studies at Macquarie University, Sydney. I moved to the south coast in 2002 and one of my jobs was working for NSW Fisheries, where I processed permits. The Collection of marine vegetation permit by Sea Health Products interested me – wild harvesting seaweed from beautiful south coast beaches - little did I know, that in 2015 I would in fact become the owner of this unique south coast business!
"Sea Health Products is Australia’s first seaweed business, starting in the late 1960’s by a lady called Betty Long. She knew all the health benefits of seaweed and when she returned to her father's property at Glasshouse Rocks, Narooma and saw kelp in the water, she thought to herself “why can’t I eat that?” She researched appropriate methods, bought a large processing machine and away she went, feeding herself and her family on this goodness from the sea. The Australian Womens’ Weekly did a story about “the Kelp Lady” in 1970 and Betty soon received letters from all over Australia – Sea Health Products was born!
"Her son, Scott and his partner Pip, moved down to Narooma to keep the business going and when they retired and moved from the area I was fortunate enough to take over the legacy!
"The processing remains the same, early morning visits to the beach to hand select fresh kelp rolling in on the waves. The kelp is then washed thoroughly in freshwater and hung out on racks to dry in the sun before being processed into kelp granules or kelp powder.
"Kelp has so many health benefits and also is extremely versatile. It can be used in neutraceuticals, cosmetics, agricultural feed and fertiliser. As demand grows it will be difficult to rely on sustainable wild harvest.
"Kelp farming could be the answer - despite our 36,000 km of coastline and vast ocean resources, there are currently no ocean based kelp farms in Australia. Kelp farming is well established overseas and is also referred to as ‘restorative farming’. Kelp farming requires no freshwater, no land and no fertiliser or pesticides to grow. It grows 5 x faster than land plants and absorbs CO2.
"My dream is for kelp to become a pantry staple – I want to improve the health of our oceans, the health of our planet and the health of Australians. 2020 celebrates a 5th Birthday and 50 Years of Golden Kelp July 2020 celebrated the 5th birthday of Jo's kelp business and 50 years of Golden Kelp with Jo posting: "What an incredible and life changing experience it has been, taking over Sea Health Products, the humble Golden Kelp business that Betty Long started, some 50 years ago!
VIDEO: Jo Lane at Glasshouse Rocks, NSW, where it all began!
"Since taking over the Kelp collection permit, every month of the warmer seasons we have woken in the early hours, to hand harvest the freshly washed up Golden Kelp from the beaches of the South coast. We’ve designed a sustainable lifestyle around our duties of collection, the washing, drying sorting and refining and packaging the best Golden Kelp we can find.
"The product has also developed sustainably through our considerate collaborations with local businesses such as Mr Bold Catering for our FURIKAKE Golden Kelp and The Australian Superfood Co. for our newest addition, Golden Kelp and (Finger) Lime.
"Our packaging is now reusable cardboard or glass jars with bamboo lids and many of our Stockists allow refills in store. Our range has extended to bath soaks and cold pressed soaps, both locally made with organic ingredients. We proved our innovation through a thoughtful collaboration with Saarenin Organics, to produce a Nourishing and Antibacterial hand cream, during the Coronavirus pandemic.
"With little time to spare we enjoy still being a part of many community events such as regularly attending local markets when able. "In addition to these markets we have dedicated time towards innovating new products with the assistance of an awarded FIAL (Food Innovation Australia Limited) grant, in collaboration with the CSIRO (The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation). We have tremendous gratitude towards local councils, Bega Valley and Eurobodalla, the Australian Federal Government and UTS (University of Technology Sydney) for supporting small business and our efforts for a sustainable future.
Jo said "Along the way, we have had the opportunity to meet some incredible inspiring people such as Damon Gameau (2040) and Professor Charles Yarish of the University of Connecticut who is the leading expert on marine macro algae, coastal management and commercial uses for seaweed for food, cosmetics and biofuels.
"Many of these opportunities came about with the Yulgilbar Churchill Fellowship, which we took us on a 3 month tour of Kelp farms, scientific research and research organisations around the world. From Asian to Europe and to Canada and the United States of America, we were blown away by what we learnt about the ancient and world wide love for seaweed growth and consuming."
Sea Health Products, Golden Kelp can be found locally in Grandpa’s Garden, Narooma, Gulaga Organics at bermagui and Tilba Cheese, Central Tilba along with Rustic Pantry in Moruya or at the website – www.seahealthproducts.com.au