Summer Harvest Update with Barnacle Co-Founder Lia Heifetz

June is upon us, and it has brought endless daylight, warmth, and an explosion of life. The spring was cool — snow lingered on the beaches into late May — and in what feels like a blink, skunk cabbage is waist high and devil’s club’s leaves have unfurled. The reawakening of plants and animals happens quickly, and along with summer comes the busiest season for us.

At Barnacle, we strive to share the essence of the coast’s foods at their peak in taste and quality, preserving pantry staples that can be eaten all year long. These preserves are a treat during the dark winter. They remind us that the sun will indeed return, and that the bounty the land and sea provides is priceless. 


June kicked off with fresh Sitka spruce tips, Alaskan rhubarb, and bull kelp from across the region. These ingredients are not available from conventional stores or through the existing supply chain, so we get to know each ingredient on a deep level, knowing who picked it and exactly where it came from. 

The most prevalent ingredient in our products is bull kelp. Much of the bull kelp we use in our products is harvested by our crew. However, we are partnering with Alaskan kelp farms to help meet the growing demand for our product. The wild bull kelp beds around Juneau have filled in since last winter. Bull kelp’s life cycle is like an annual plant: growing swiftly in the summer, releasing spores to seed the next generation, then dying back in the winter. We have learned to harvest cautiously from the wild kelp beds, as they provide habitat for a diversity of other life. 

Through our products, we share the story of this place and its amazing culture with people around the world. By making these foods in Southeast Alaska, we are planting the value chain of resources close to their origins. We create local jobs and are providing a market for farmers and harvesters. As we grow, we strive to create ripples of prosperity and opportunity throughout the region. Since starting Barnacle four years ago, that dream is coming to light, and it’s an honor to be partnered with Sealaska to help us reach mutual goals ahead.