KelpCrofting has three founding members; Martin Welch, Kyla Orr and Alex Glasgow, all of whom are long-term residents of Skye and Lochalsh, in the Highlands of Scotland.
Martin is a fisherman, sailor, mountaineer, diver and general 'ideas man', with a very detailed understanding of the local seas, and a well-established love for kelp. Observing kelp growing on his fishing gear led Martin to develop equipment and methods to naturally wild-seed kelp on a larger scale. In 2019 he developed and patented KelpRing, an innovative structure for growing kelp in salmon cages to provide a natural stress-free habitat for cleaner fish. The KelpRing structure will be used to wild-seed some of the kelp grown at the seaweed farm. Martins fishing and extensive 'sea-going' experience, as well as his innovative ideas are invaluable assets to the business.
Kyla has a PhD from the Scottish Association of Marine Science, which focused on the impacts of harvesting kelp for biofuel, and has been working as an independent marine ecological consultant based in Plockton for the last 8 years. She has spent many years engaging with the fishing industry, and working on projects related to improving management of our seas. She has recently been trialing methods of setting up a low-cost hatchery to supply seed-stock for the kelp farm. Kyla also deals with the licencing and consenting procedures, all scientific aspects as well as stakeholder engagement for KelpCrofting.
Alex is a landscape architect with a long background in forest design, and has a finely tuned obsession with maximising efficiency and reducing environmental and visual impact. Growing kelp in the sea is a natural transition from designing forests, and Alex is working with Martin to find cost-effective ways of managing the kelp farm so that we can make best use of local resources. Alex designed and built his own autonomous house from scratch on the family croft, and his acquired skills (and large shed) are proving very useful for the development and building of various bits of equipment and innovation required for the kelp farm, from Kyla's seeding laboratory to harvesting gantries and transport barges.