We receive our oysters as “seed” which are baby oysters about the size of red pepper flakes. The seed is placed in heavy duty mesh bags for protection and “planted” in waters of the bay in several locations. For the next several months, as the oysters grow larger, they are transferred to less populated bags so they have room to grow. The bags are carefully jostled every so often to ensure the oysters grow evenly and do not become attached to one another. When the different types of oysters, and the clams and mussels have reached maturity and market size the crews begin “harvesting”.
To prepare for harvest, the crews need to ready the boat – tools are brought aboard including long handled hooks for grabbing bags on the ocean floor – and life vests are donned. Once the boat and crew are fully prepared, they head out to where the ready oysters are waiting. Each bag weighing approximately 40 pounds is pulled up and laid on the deck of the boat. While every harvest varies, a usual harvest consists of around 80 to 100 bags.
Because each oyster is unique and may grow at a different rate than others in its same bag, the oysters need to be sorted before going to market. Each bag of oysters is individually sorted into different sizes and dead or injured oysters are discarded. Once sorting is complete, the shellfish are washed and placed in ice chests for transport to wholesalers, farmers markets, and our retail store.