about zeewaar

Zeewaar team

Rebecca Wiering (L) and Jennifer Breaton (R) invented the idea of the first Dutch seaweed farm in 2012, and incorporated the company Zeewaar in January 2013. In 2015, Marco de Leeuw and Stichting DOEN joined as shareholders.

Jennifer was born in the US, where she was an attorney practicing in New York City. Europe was her favorite destination for vacations and her mother grew up in The Hague. So she jumped at the chance in 2008 to obtain a Master's degree in International & European Trade & Investment Law from the University of Amsterdam. Another diploma richer, she decided to stay in the Netherlands because she actually liked it here. Strange. Most Americans find Dutchies to be extremely rude, but not Jennifer. She loves the dramatic landscapes. In Zeeland where our seaweed farm is located, the farmlands on the edge of the North Sea, where at the horizon the sun sinks into the sea. In Friesland, her eyes follow the sails floating through farmland, invisible boats below the line of vision.  She races her bike through Amsterdam, as if she has never known differently. Raised by her parents as a sailor, she is our captain, always steering us toward true north.

Rebecca was raised in Bergen (NH), studied in Amsterdam and right after completing that she moved to New York City where she was hired by Saatchi & Saatchi. After 6 years, she came back, but NYC would always be her 2nd home. Entrepreneurship is baked into her genes, as is her love for nature. Fall smells and colors can make her emotional. Quite absurd really. She lived her whole life within 40 km of the sea or ocean. Because she loves the sea, in every season, rain or shine, sailing, swimming, diving, rowing. Her study in Amsterdam gave her friends for life. NYC showed her that with passion, anything is possible. Optimistic to the core, she can handle the stormy weather, always thinking in solutions.

zeewaar vision

There is a real opportunity in Europe: to raise the new and innovative practice of "sustainable seaweed farming" from the depths of our seas. Only when in all of Europe we start using sustainable seaweed production methods, can we say that seaweed is good for people and planet. Zeewaar works on the creation of what we call the Seaweed String of Pearls along our European coastlines. Seaweed farms operated by local communities, providing sustainable jobs and drving innovation in coastal areas. It will become the new norm: replacing the ever increasing and damaging practice of "wild harvesting."

Most are not aware, but enormous amounts of natural seaweed beds are removed every year from our seas and oceans in Europe. Ripped out far off shore, out of view, by a nontransparent industry that grows an average 10% a year. We're talking about well close to 300 million kilos in 2016, which constitutes 99,7% of all EU derived seaweed. "Wild" means natural seaweed bed, removed from nature (the wild). The companies doing this don't replant it, they simply take it. and leave. This seaweed is used predominantly as a gelling and stiffing agent (pudding, tooth paste, and much more). But wild harvest is not sustainable, not future proof, because the global demand for seaweed grows every year, while seaweed is not an unlimited resource. It forms our underwater rainforest, so we cannot afford to keep removing incremental volumes counting many million kilos, every year.

our partners

It's a little difficult to explain how challenging it is to build a company that is the first of its kind. Sustainable seaweed cultivation simply did not exist in the Netherlands, in Europe, or globally for that matter. This complicating factor made it so important for us to work with our partners. We thank the Province of Zeeland and Impuls Zeeland for supporting Zeewaar with a subsidy, with advice, and with connections. We also thank Julie Smit for her confidence, which was especially so important during the startup phase. Marco de Leeuw we thank for his dedication as commercial advisor and his expertise that helped us launch the Zeewaar herbs in retail outlets all over the Netherlands in 2015. New on board is the sustainable Impact Fund PYMWYMIC, who we'd like to thank for their support. Lastly, the involvement of Stichting DOEN since 2014 has made all the difference. DOEN provides us with expertise, advisors, tools, networking opportunities, and contacts. As shareholder, DOEN made it possible for Zeewaar to keep growing, and in every way, DOEN has been invaluable to the success of Zeewaar.

Zeewaar The first seaweed farm in The Netherlands