THURSDAY 6/11: Train to Be an Oyster Farmer

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is looking for a few good men, women, and children to grow oysters from backyard piers and docks to help restore the Chesapeake Bay. CBF will host a workshop to train volunteers on Thursday, June 11, from 6-8 p.m. at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science Eastern Shore Laboratory, 40 Atlantic Avenue in Wachapreague. Volunteers at the workshop will receive a batch of spat-on-shell oysters (baby oysters attached to shells), two 18” x 9” oyster growing cages, and instructions on how to maintain an “oyster garden” throughout the coming year.

Advanced registration for the workshop is requested. A $30 donation covers the cost of oysters and growing materials and includes membership to CBF. To register and for more information, visit www.cbf.org/vaoystergardening, send an e-mail to OysterGardener@cbf.org, or call 757/622-1964, ext. 3303.

Oysters may be grown at private docks, marina slips, or anywhere with access to salt water. At the end of a year’s time, volunteers will return their mature oysters to CBF for transplanting onto local sanctuary reefs, where the oysters can reproduce, filter Bay water, and provide homes for other marine life.

Oyster gardeners who have been raising oysters for the past year are asked to return their mature oysters to the June 11 workshop soCBF staff can place them on nearby sanctuary reefs.

“Growing your own oysters is one of the most tangible ways you can help save the Chesapeake Bay,” said Jackie Shannon, CBF Virginia Oyster Restoration Manager. “Each oyster is a like living water treatment plant that provides critical habitat for other marine life. People of all ages, especially kids, find great enjoyment nurturing these amazing creatures from baby spat to mature oysters, and by doing so, they have a role in restoring our waterways.”

The Bay’s oyster population has declined drastically over the past decades, and CBF is working with other groups, volunteers, and government agencies to restore this iconic Bay species. CBF currently has more than 300 oyster gardening families throughout Virginia who volunteer to raise oysters for restoration. Since 1996, CBF and its partners have grown or transplanted nearly 40 million oysters and have helped build or restock more than 20 oyster reefs.

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