In 2013, our family purchased a special piece of property on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay, at the mouth of Hungars Creek.
At the time, I (Alex) knew very little of aquaculture, but I started to watch the watermen through our back kitchen windows and became increasingly interested in what they were doing. I started YouTubing and reading articles and books about oyster aquaculture. In 2016, I planted our first batch of hobby seed under our dock, and pretty soon the idea of starting our own commercial shellfish operation started to percolate.
By 2019, I quit my job at PricewaterhouseCoopers (an accounting firm) and left my life in New York City behind to pursue my dream of starting our own oyster farm.
Today, we're focused on producing the highest quality oyster, while being the most environmentally-conscious and community-friendly operation possible.
A large reason we love what we do is the environmentally positive impact our oysters have on our surroundings, which we feel so fortunate to call our home. This sense of responsibility, or stewardship, acts as a sort of filter on every decision we make. From the location of our equipment, to our packaging and distribution, we are focused on doing things "the right way," which for us means the most environmentally-friendly way. We're excited to offer our customers entirely biodegradable (retail) and recyclable (wholesale) packaging options. We're also excited to be working with UNC IMS and The Nature Conservancy, building and deploying biodegradable products that catch wild oysters for living shoreline restoration projects. We also offer farm tours for folks interested in coming by and taking a closer look at how we do things here.
In the Spring, we get our seed from a hatchery across the Bay and start growing them in our adjustable longline spat sock baskets hanging under our dock. After every 4-6 weeks, we grade them into larger mesh baskets, then we move them into our ground cages, where they'll grow along our shoreline through the fall/winter months.
By the following spring, we begin moving the near-market sized oysters into our larger adjustable longline baskets, and bring them over to our finishing longline farm. We finish all of our oysters in our adjustable longline baskets for at least two months. During this final period before harvest, the oysters are constantly tumbling with the ebb and flood of the tides, and are suspended out of the water for about half the day, resulting in a stronger shell (which is easy to shuck), a higher meat-to-shell ratio, and a cleaner/prettier/rounded bill.
We harvest several times a week, after which we run the oysters through our tumbler (which cleans them up so they're immediately ready for consumption). Then we cull them by hand (between Loving Cups and Rocky Tops) based on size, weight, and appearance.
Our Loving Cups are our premium petite oysters. Generally on the smaller side (3" +/- .5"), these oysters are consistently strong-shelled and have a nice rounded bill, a high meat-to-shell ratio, a medium salinity (20-25 ppt), and a buttery, almost cream of mushroom ("umami") taste!
Our Rocky Tops are our big boys! These tend to be on the larger side (3.5" +/-.5"). They don't always have the smooth rounded bill we associate with our Loving Cups, but what they may lack in shell aesthetics, they make up for in meat!