PORTLAND, Maine — Two Maine businesses are being honored by Fast Company's annual Businesses That Matter list. Out of 144 companies, from big names like Alaska Airlines and MasterCard, two Maine companies made the list: Allagash Brewing and Atlantic Sea Farms.
The brewery and kelp aquaculture company were both honored for putting climate-forward business practices at the forefront.
Allagash was recognized in part for sourcing grains from Aroostook County, which it told NEWS CENTER Maine amounts to more than a million pounds per year from local farmers.
"It's an incredible honor to be on this list and seeing the other businesses, some pretty big names. ... It's been an incredible ride," Jason Perkins, the master brewer at Allagash, said.
Perkins said the priority to ship local grain started in 2016, adding that brewing is a resource-intensive process, but Allagash has worked to be as sustainable as possible.
"We take it as a responsibility, running the business. We want to do what's right. When they reach for an Allagash product, they know the environment and our community is top of mind," Perkins said.
For Atlantic Sea Farms, just the product itself is enough to turn climate-minded heads. Kelp is a natural carbon sink that doesn't need much for resources to grow into edible sizes.
Research reported by NEWS CENTER Maine also looks at the possibility of using kelp to store carbon at the sea floor, removing emissions from the atmosphere altogether.
"What it means is putting Maine as a food destination for years to come," Jesse Baines, chief marketing officer at Atlantic Sea Farms, said. "It's really important for us to be able to represent our partner farmers."
Baines said most of their partner farmers who get kelp seedlings from Atlantic Sea Farms in the fall and harvest in the early spring are mainly lobstermen, and the added source of income is beneficial in the face of volatility in the industry.
"Right now, our partner farmers are seeing their farms [grow]. ... It's the growing season, and I think this is a time we are all looking for a little bit of hope," Baines said.