Maxwell Burtis an undergraduate at the University of Maine who also runs Ferda Farms LLC, won the funding by topping two categories at the 2019 UMaine Business Challenge. He has pledged to use it “towards solar on the farm to increase the sustainability in all aspects and reduce the unwanted features of traditional oyster tumblers”.
Tumblers are used to wash, sort, and shape the shells of oysters and Ferda is in the process of redesigning the traditional tumbler to decrease the manpower needed and to increase efficiency. As their tumbler will be located offshore, they aim to power it with a floating solar array.
According to Mainebiz, on winning the prize, the freshman mechanical engineering student said: "These prizes are huge for the expansion of our oyster farm and continued innovation along Maine's coast. The competition is giving Ferda Farms the opportunity we have long dreamed of: to buy more cages, quahog seed and solar panels, allowing us to continue to improve Maine's waters, and revitalize Maine's changing fisheries with aquaculture."