Meet the Modern Farmers: Gary and Matthew Moretti

Bangs Island Mussels

Gary and Matthew Moretti. Matthew started Bangs Island Mussels with his father after earning a master’s in marine biology.

Greta Rybus

Bangs Island Mussels
Portland, Maine

After earning a master’s in marine biology from Northeastern University in Boston, Matthew Moretti forwent a cushy academic career in favor of a more hands-on approach—purchasing a struggling mussel farm in 2010 with his 66-year-old father, Gary. “The first few years were lean,” Matthew says. “There was zero automation, and we shoveled a lot of mussels. I didn’t have to go to the gym.”

Mussel farming is never easy work: The mollusks require a year and a half to mature from seed and can become unharvestable—for months—if a certain phytoplankton is present in the water. But they’re also the rare crop that does more good than harm. “Mussels are filter feeders, which means they extract nutrients from the water and, in the process, improve its quality,” explains Matthew, 34, who ratcheted up the difficulty level by insisting on sustainability at every step. Now profitable, Bangs Island Mussels eschews fertilizers, opts for reusable ropes rather than disposable mesh socks, and fuels its boats with a blend of bio-diesel made from cooking oil. “Our core value is ocean stewardship,” says Matthew. “The environmental benefits of these methods are very real.”

Meet the Modern Farmers: Gary and Matthew Moretti