Beach Day: Wendy Moore
The Director of Lazy Point Farms on the Revolutionary Potential of Kelp
In this regular feature, we chat with friends of the conservancy—people working to protect our local waterways and community—about the thing that makes Mastic Beach so special: the beach.
A South Texas native, Wendy spent almost all her childhood vacations at the beach on the Gulf Coast. Coastal life ran deep in her family’s livelihood: her grandfather was a fisherman, whose love for oysters could be quantified by the heap of shells in his backyard; her parents sold seafood out of their truck & storefront. Wendy’s first job in high school was cleaning tanks and monitoring water quality at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute.
Now she lives in New York City with her husband and two children, Calvin and Emily and serves as the Executive Director for the Moore Family Charitable Foundation, a private 501(c)3 focused on direct impact projects at the intersection of community, environment, and social good. She leads Lazy Point Farms, a subsidiary focused on bootstrapping the New York kelp ecosystem through initiatives that support cultivation, processing, and markets.
WHAT IS YOUR EARLIEST MEMORY OF THE BEACH?
My earliest memory of the beach is time spent in Rockport, Texas, near my hometown. My mom went back to college to become a teacher after my dad passed away, so I spent a lot of time at my grandparents’ house there while she went to class. Every morning, when I was 5 or so, my grandfather would take me out to Little Bay. He taught me how to throw a cast net, and I was in charge of putting the bait we’d catch into the bucket. I loved sitting in his truck with the bucket of perch on the floorboard and listening to him use his duck call.
DESCRIBE YOUR IDEAL DAY ON THE WATER.
I’d start with a morning hike to Amsterdam Beach and finish the day with a sunset sail on one of Sail Montauk’s boats with my family.
ARE YOU A BEACH CHAIR OR BEACH BLANKET PERSON?
Definitely a chair… so I can keep an eye on my kids when they’re in the water! They love the big waves and could play all day. I try to position my book just under my line of sight so I can try to get a little reading in as I watch them…
DESCRIBE YOUR FAVORITE SEASON ON LONG ISLAND. WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL TO YOU?
Fall. The hectic energy fades away, the air is thick with the most wonderful smell of pines and sand and leaves, and the water temperatures are still warm.
WHAT DREW YOU TO YOUR WORK WITH KELP FARMING?
Originally, we had intentions of starting our own kelp farm. We landed on the name “Lazy Point Farms” for our project because we loved the Lazy Point area where we spent time. We envisioned working toward leasing a plot in that general area. As we dug in, though, we quickly realized that we could make a much bigger impact if we focused instead on supporting existing growers with expertise already on Long Island. As a result, we never actually started our own farm. Our goal is to support anyone who can and wants to grow, or process, kelp. We’re lucky to have worked with a wide range of organizations: garden clubs, high schools, townships, nonprofits, and private commercial growers. When our family started this work, we wanted to create new, direct-impact opportunities for our neighbors in New York State. Kelp fit the bill, even though I had no previous experience in aquaculture. My background is in education, so I love a good question. I just started asking a lot of questions and speaking to as many people who would answer my emails, and it took off from there.
WHAT IS ONE THING YOU WISH PEOPLE KNEW ABOUT KELP?
I wish people knew what incredible potential it holds to revolutionize the way we nourish our bodies, our soil, our animals. It can be fuel, fiber, it can be used as bioplastic… we need to start innovating and normalizing the use of kelp now. Kelp needs to be a part of the conversation whenever people are talking about corn or soy. I think over time we’re going to start feeling more pressure to look towards the ocean for climate solutions. The time to create, imagine, strengthen and improve all these potential solutions is right now.
YOU ALSO SPEND A LOT OF TIME COLLECTING KELP AND SEAWEED ON THE BEACH FOR PLEASURE. WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT THIS ACTIVITY? WHAT INTERESTING THINGS HAVE YOU FOUND?
It’s such a calming activity because of all the beautiful colors and textures you find. Kelp can be smooth, rubbery, bumpy; it can be in pods. It can be brown, purple, green, striped..… Its more interesting to me than searching for shells. The most interesting thing we discovered recently was that rockweed can serve as an individually-packaged squirt of salve if you need it. My daughter had a small cut on her hand and someone told us to pop some rockweed onto it. Sure enough, it worked.
WHAT IS ONE THING YOU WISH PEOPLE UNDERSTOOD ABOUT THE EAST END OF LONG ISLAND— PARTICULARLY ITS NATURE?
Everything that you do out there—flushing a toilet, using fertilizer—it all goes back into the water. What we do has an effect, whether you’re just visiting for the weekend or are a long-time resident.
WHAT IS ONE WAY THAT AN INDIVIDUAL CAN CONTRIBUTE TOWARDS THE HEALTH OF THE LONG ISLAND WATERWAYS?
If you are an oyster grower, consider adding kelp to your farm! If you are a donor, we think that supporting organizations like Mastic Beach Conservancy is the most direct-impact way to ensure stewardship of our waterways. If you are a volunteer looking to support the kelp farming industry in NYS, the best thing you can do is to be an advocate! It’s even easier than going out and getting your hands dirty, and it’s something you can do anywhere, any time of year! Make space for kelp in as many conversations as you can. Get kelp on town hall meeting agendas. Help us give it space to take off. Help us normalize the idea of kelp as a New York State commodity. Ask your local garden service company if they use synthetic fertilizers—press them on its effects and ask them if they’d be willing to try something new. Ask your local conservation and waterways office, “will you start a kelp program?”. If you have a connection to a school near a waterbody, ask them “Do you want to teach your students about kelp?” We are here to connect with you and support your efforts!