The CACHE researchers undertake placements as part of the their training and development with the CACHE project. Here, Kirti Ramesh talks about her time on a mussel farm:
“I thought it would be best to start with an introduction to the mussel farm I’m working on. This will hopefully give you some context and also learn about the farm, as I did on my first day. For my placement, I am helping out at the Kieler Meeresfarm. What makes this farm special is that it is a local mussel farm run by only one person, the cheerful, Tim Staufenberger. The mussel farm is the largest in the German Baltic, selling about 2 tonnes of mussels every year. Tim is a ‘direct seller’ which means that he can only sell his mussels within a 100 kilometer radius of the farm, so his main customers are local restaurants and shops. In addition to this, he also sells his mussels on a local pier three times a week.
I have decided to break my placement up into chunks, so that I can learn about the seasonal cycles involved in running a mussel farm and to start, I am learning all about mussel harvest. I can also tell you that harvesting mussels means you will unintentionally draw attention to yourself, right from the onset. Note the oversize, orange waterproofs that seem slightly comical.
My introduction and tour of the boat we use was easy to grasp, since the business is relatively small and therefore, the boat required is relatively small. I was introduced to several important pieces of equipment, all named after former volunteers that made hilarious errors whilst using them. My favorite is Gustav, the anchor, that was thrown overboard by a student volunteer (Gustav) who forgot you are meant to hold onto the rope tied to an anchor.
I worked alongside Tim to harvest around 25 kilos of mussels, clean and sort them by size. The largest mussels are the best (around 8 centimetres in length), followed by the ‘grade B’ mussels. The remaining mussels are returned back to the farm to harvest next year (seed mussels). Once the mussels are cleaned and sorted, they have to be checked by eye to see if there are any that are broken and then finally packed for people that placed an order for the next day.
In summary, my first day exceeded all my expectations: Great weather, lots to learn and free mussels to take home! I might also go so far as to say it was a success, since I don’t recall any equipment on the boat being named after me!”
You can find out more about Kieler Meeresfarm through its website:http://www.kieler-meeresfarm.de/
Also, see Kirti’s short film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbTJNzfAwN0