Vraic, glorious vraic!

14th April 2022

Found in: Blog  -  

Author: Locate Guernsey

In this month’s guest blog we speak to the Vraic Man, Ben Tustin from Guernsey Seaweed about his passion for Guernsey, protecting our natural environment and how Guernsey’s shores are the envy of worldwide seaweed companies!

If you are interested in relocating to Guernsey for a more sustainable lifestyle or simply want to find out more about setting up a business in Guernsey, please get in touch.

Ben had been working in finance for 22 years and was talking to a friend one day about the benefits of seaweed as fertiliser.

“I was intrigued and the more I looked into the history of seaweed in Guernsey the more I became fascinated with the potential.”

Seaweed, known in Guernésiais as vraic, has been collected from our shores for hundreds of years for fuel and fertiliser. It was such an important industry to our island and was always top of the agenda in any discussions when Royal envoy visited Guernsey.

The vraic industry has diminished over the past century mainly due to modern farming methods, however Ben and his wife Naomi have re-ignited this age-old tradition.

“We started gathering drift seaweed and drying it for fertiliser, but as the sales channels collapsed during the COVID-19 pandemic, we had a crisis due to no hand sanitiser being available and so we created the world’s first seaweed hand sanitiser.  This subsequently led to us producing seaweed skincare products and seaweed seasonings for food!”

The vraic is gathered from various beaches along the South-West and West coast of Guernsey, “The West coast; Port Soif and Port Grat are really good for food seaweeds as they are relatively flat and have excellent water quality. Drift seaweed is used for fertiliser and is gathered from the South-West coast due to the prevailing South Westerly wind.”

Having the second largest tidal range in the world, makes Guernsey one of the best locations to gather seaweed, “…due to our large tidal range, sea temperature and unique coastline. We talk with seaweed companies all over the world and they are very jealous of Guernsey’s natural resource.”

The key to maintaining a healthy crop of seaweed is to sustainably pick and harvest it by hand, “…we always leave at least one third of the plant so it regrows. We then monitor the regrowth, and it has shown that seaweed regrows in Guernsey faster than anywhere in the British Isles. Some types of kelp grow at 10cm a day!”

All vraic is edible but they all have individual flavours. So, depending on what you’re looking for there will be a seaweed out there for you, “We use seaweed in everything! Dried seaweed flakes mixed into butter is amazing on steak or sea spaghetti lightly steamed is a very healthy and tasty alternative to pasta.”

When we asked Ben what he loved most about island life he said, “Come rain or shine the opportunity to work on the beach all year round and enjoy the ever-changing environment is an absolute gift.” The beauty of Guernsey isn’t just in its scenery, it’s in the lifestyle the island offers as well.

If you are interested in relocating to Guernsey for a more sustainable lifestyle or simply want to find out more about setting up a business in Guernsey, please get in touch.

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