Five Easy Pieces
This quick look at getting started is adapted from the excellent Virginia Oyster Gardening 2013 guide, which you can download here
1. Pick your site
Your needs are simple: no silt, no strong currents, no high and dry exposure at low tide.
2. Choose a cage
It needs to keep predators out, can be handled (weight) when oysters are grown, and allows a free flow of water through it. There is a list of equipment providers below, and if you are handy, follow the steps in this DIY video:
3. Be regulated: Get a permit
The Abbreviated Joint Permit Application For Noncommercial Ripariaan Shellfish Aquaculture Structures – “Oyster Gardening” form can be downloaded here.
4. Buy Spat
Oyster seed hatcheries and vendors change from year to year, but the list here can be a start. The Tidewater Oyster Gardeners’ Association keeps an updated list, as does the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
5. Set It Up, Keep It Clean, (wait 12-18 months), Enjoy or Donate
Secure your cage(s) to a piling or pier, pull them up and wash them every week or two in the summer (less in the winter), and tie them tight when storms are expected. It’s a good idea to put your name and address on your float, or if necessary pull the float out of the water and store where it is cool and dry – good for a couple of days to ride out a storm.
Oysters grow approximately 2” in length during each growing season. Oysters can be transplanted onto reef sites after just one growing season, or kept to the size desired to eat. Oysters live for up to 10 years.
Find your own, personal mentor. The Master Oyster Gardeners program can be your lifeline. Download a list of “MOGs” and approach them on figurative knees. What a service. MasterOysterGardeners_2014
Oyster Gardening Resources, Company, Products, Contact Information
This list is updated to 2014 and is courtesy of the Tidewater Oyster Growers Association. Many thanks to this organization for a great website, full of helpful information
Atlantic Aquaculture Supply, Inc.
86 Tupelo St.
Bristol, RI 02809
Capt. Jack’s Seafood Co.
Oyster floats, oyster seed and accessories
PO Box 35
New Point, VA 23125
Capt. Tom’s Oyster Floats (2 locations, same products)
Taylor Floats (2 sizes), Oyster Seed/ 1000 and 500 count, oyster gardening supplies, oyster
gardening “how to” manual
Deltaville,VA Chesapeake, VA
Chesapeake Bay Foundation Rob Brumbaugh
Oyster donations and education
142 W. York St., Suite 318,
Norfolk, VA 23510
Chesapeake Bay Oyster Company, LLC
Oyster equipment, bags,cages,floats, seed oysters
PO Box 96
Wake, VA 23176
Circle C Oyster Ranchers Association, Inc.
Covered Taylor Floats, Floating Oyster Reefs, Maryland Oyster Seed (with equipment purchase), Commercial Products and Training for Commercial Producers
49676 Freeman’s Road, Dameron, MD 20628
Oyster flip float kit $42 [for 1000 oysters], oyster bags and cages, cable ties and hooks , shell bag, and netting by the roll or piece. As a distributor we can offer discount prices for large orders. 25 yrs experience.
Mathews, VA 23109
J.C. Walker Brothers Tom and Wade Walker
Seed oysters and clams
Willis Wharf, VA 23486
Ward Oyster Company
Ocean Products Terry Murphy
Wire mesh, pig rings, ties, synthetic rope, bungee chord
PO Box A1A
Diggs, VA 23045
Rappahannock Oyster Farm
Oyster floats and liners
PO Box 53
Wake, VA 23176
Keith Rodgers email@example.com
Oyster seed (triploid)
271 Bay Watch Ln.
Tidewater Oyster Gardeners Association
Brian Wood, President
PO Box 2463
Gloucester, VA 23061
Virginia Department of Health, Division of Shellfish Sanitation
PO Box 241
White Stone, VA 22578
Virginia Institute of Marine Science
Karen Hudson Advisory services
PO Box 1346
Gloucester Point, VA 23062
Virginia Marine Resources Commission
Jim Wesson, Chip Neikirk Permits
2600 Washington Ave – 3rd Floor
Newport News, VA 23607
18425 Northumberland Hwy.
Cages and cage building supplies
Reedville Va. 22539
Oyster Floats by Chesapeake River Restorations
Self Cleaning Oyster Lodge oyster floats for oyster gardening.