Harvest and Process

Hand harvesting wild seaweed from a boat
"We harvest in a respectful, ecologically sound way, and strive to provide the highest possible quality."
James Jungwirth and Kari Rein
Naturespirit Co-Founders

Seaweed Harvest

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Pangea Organics came out for a day of seaweed harvest. Watch the video.

Preparation for seaweed harvest begins weeks before we actually set out in our wet suits on the day of harvest. We carefully assess the tides and weather forecast to ensure that conditions will be favorable for the harvest team. High winds and stormy weather are not a welcome site when we’re working in the ocean. either in boats, or on foot, carrying 80 pound bags of seaweed. As the harvest days approach, we are busy at home: packing gear for “seaweed camp,” patching sea kayaks and wetsuit boots, and preparing food for the long harvest days.
Seaweed Camp 1
Seaweed Camp
Seaweed Camp 2
Harvest Crew
James and the harvest team arrive at seaweed camp the night before day 1 to set up for 3-5 days of harvest. They wake before dawn the next morning, drink some strong coffee and eat a hearty breakfast, make sure they have all the equipment and set off in their wet suits down to the ocean. The intertidal zone, where the land meets the sea, is a rich and very special place. There is so much life, such diversity and beauty here. Sometimes the otters come to visit, and we also see porpoises, whales and eagles at times.
Harvesting Wakame Seaweed - Naturespirit Herbs
Inspecting Wakame during harvest
"I have been purchasing Naturespirit Herbs' products since 2001. As a health care practitioner, I've had the opportunity to bring their products into several integrative clinics. Their sea vegetables and herbal extracts have helped thousands of people. I continue to use their products in my own practice and recommend them to other people.

Several times in 2001, I had the incredible experience of going out to the ocean at dawn to harvest seaweeds with James. I was impressed by how he worked with the cycles of the tides and his dedication to sustainable harvest practices. I also took part in the drying process. The seaweeds were brought home to James and Kari's land and quickly fresh air dried to maintain their potency. Timeless traditions, superb products and dedication that's hard to come by. Thank you."
Michael Altman
Seattle, Washington
The sea is usually calm this early, but the winds and waves often pick up during the late mornings. We have learned to be vigilant; we don’t turn our backs on the ocean for more than a moment or two and always know when the next wave is coming. Depending on the species, we harvest offshore in kayaks, or on foot in the intertidal zones at low tide. We are ecologically responsible harvesters: each plant is harvested by hand, in a way that allows it to continue to grow and reproduce. A maximum of 25% of any one species is harvested from an area per year. We return to the same beautiful seaweed “gardens” year after year, and have never observed negative impacts from our harvesting. The harvest takes a few hours, then we carry the 60-8- lbs bags full of seaweed through the slippery rocks in the intertidal zone and load them in the kayaks, to transport them as close as possible to where the car is parked.
Hauling Seaweed 1
The day’s harvest ends here in the early afternoon. The seaweeds are loaded into the driver’s truck, covered with wet sheets to keep the harvest cool and driven back to our home a couple hours inland in Oregon, where Kari and her crew await to hang the seaweed to dry. The harvest team can take a well-earned nap in the shade and rest their sore muscles before eating dinner and getting ready for next day’s harvest.

Drying and Processing Seaweeds

The seaweeds arrive at home in the late afternoon and our local crew hangs seaweed on the outdoor drying rack until dark. The sea vegetables will stay fresh and cool during the night, and quickly dry in the open air through the following morning, before being taken down and moved inside to our storage facility.

Our seaweeds dry quickly, preserving their maximum flavor, nutrition and bioactivity
The dry, sunny climate here and open-air set-up dries our seaweed quickly at low temperatures, which preserves maximum flavor, nutrition and bioactivity.Most kinds are dry before noon the next day. Once fully dry, we sort, trim and package our seaweeds. We store them in airtight containers in a cool, dark room until they get shipped to you, our customer.
Hanging Gigartina Seaweed
Inspecting Bladderwrack for dryness

Harvesting herbs

At Naturespirit Herbs we have a short questionnaire for our employees.

The answer to the question: “Which jobs do you like the best?” is always “wildcrafting”.

It is very satisfying to be able to harvest our own medicine and to get to know the biodiverse region we live in, with so many different ecosystems.

Balsam Root - Naturespirit Herbs
Co-founder Kari with Balsam Root (Balsamorhiza saggitata)
Licorice Fern - Naturespirit Herbs
Wildcrafter Ariana among the Licorce Fern (Polypodium glycyrrhiza)
We harvest a wide variety of medicinal wild plants and fungi. We understand and care about the plants we work with. Each species is harvest at its prime stage of development, in a way that causes minimal impact on future plant populations. We sometimes replant smaller roots and spread seeds around to ensure plentiful re-growth. We do not usually keep wildcrafted herbs in stock; we harvest them for you when you order them. This way, you always get freshly harvested herbs (commercially available herbs are often 5+ years old). Please order before the season starts to make sure we can fit the harvest for you into our schedule.
Inka Holding Pipsissewa Chimaphila umbellata.
Inka with freshly harvested Pipsissewa
(Chimphila umbellata).
Cassandra with Calamus (Acorus calamus)
Cassandra with Calamus (Acorus calamus) from our organic garden

Drying and Processing Herbs

We dry all the herbs, roots and fungi at low temperatures, often with fans, to speed up the drying process and ensure high quality. We harvest small batches at the time which mean we can pay plenty attention to quality.

Our herbs are stored in a cool, dark place after the drying process is complete.