Tramore, Co. Waterford
What do you get when you cross your love of the coast with your passion for healthy food? An exciting, nutritious and tasty range of seaweed protein bars and caponatas!
Marie Power, aka The Sea Gardener, has had a long association with seaweed and foraging. As a child, it was her cousin who first introduced her to the delights of carrageen foraged from Stradbally Cove. Even as a management and training consultant she was always drawn to the sea and the rugged and bountiful Waterford coastline.
One weekend while voluntarily leading a rocky shore ecology outing Marie brought with her a smorgasbord of tasty treats; soup, scones and cookies all made with seaweed. The reaction of the group to these tasty snacks was fantastic and the catalyst for Marie to contemplate a full-time career as a forager and food producer.
“Following the events, I was repeatedly asked by foraging participants where they could buy the food tasters we were making with seaweed. That's when we began to think about making products under The Sea Gardener name.”
It was 2007 and around the same time the Dungarvan Food Festival was in its infancy. The Festival committee invited Marie to lead a forage for the festival. She didn’t have to be asked twice and the interest that the workshops generated copper-fastened Marie’s decision to focus completely on the business.
In 2012 Marie decided to combine her skill from the world of management with her love of foraging. She undertook a U.C.C. Diploma in Field Ecology and went on to self-publish her book “The Sea Garden.”
Marie is a true embodiment of an entrepreneur whose business was borne from her passion for food and nature.
“At Sea Gardener, we are interested in the source of our food and in making the link between the origin and consumption of food as short and simple as possible. Seaweed has always been an integral element of the Ireland’s food heritage and is undergoing a very exciting revival of interest. And we believe that the best food can be both nutritious and tasty.”
It is the revival of interest in seaweed that prompts Marie to continue foraging and educating the public, especially children, about the health benefits of seaweed.
“Every time I bring a group of people on the shore to forage is an absolute pleasure. People really respond well to being outdoors, to learning how to pick food in the wild and how to use it. I love it when parents express delight in their own children’s’ discovery and interest, especially "finicky" children getting stuck in to making and eating something with seaweed on the beach.”
Milestones such as collecting the second run of “The Sea Garden” from the printer less than one year after publication, have encouraged Marie to develop the education and tourism side of the business along with introducing a new range of tasty seaweed products. “As an island nation, we are blessed with a coastline that yields such tasty and nutritious produce. We simply want to get people, young and old, to enjoy tasting, cooking with and learning about seaweed and realising its many benefits.”
Research shows that seaweeds are rich in nutrients and, by virtue of their abundant availability in the marine ecosystem, they have the potential to become an excellent source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals.
Marie has had great support from her husband and children. Not only do they help with the practicalities of running a business, they act as sounding boards for ideas and recipes.
The Sea Gardener’s range of healthy protein snack and savoury caponatas, are now stocked in good food stores in Waterford, Cork, Tipperary, Wexford, Kilkenny and Dublin and are available online from the website also.