Staff from Under Armour and students from two local schools set oyster cages at a local dock. Photo by CBF Staff
Virginia Oyster Gardening Program
What is it?
Oysters are the Chesapeake Bay's best natural filters. They also provide essential habitat for fish and other Bay creatures. Unfortunately, though, today's oyster population is estimated at only two percent of its original level. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Oyster Gardening Program gives people the opportunity to help bring back this vital species by growing oysters alongside their docks. Once grown, the adult oysters are returned to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation for planting on sanctuary reefs.
How is it done?
- To grow oysters, CBF staff assists each participant in the construction of the best growing system (cages, floats, etc) to fit their location. The gardener also receives spat-on-shell seed oysters.
- Gardeners grow their oysters in the cages for about a year until the oysters are about one to two inches long.
- At the end of the year, the gardener then returns the adult oysters to CBF, and our staff transplants the oysters onto sanctuary (non-harvest) reefs in nearby waters.
- The gardener starts over with a new batch of seed. The hope is that each gardener will continue to produce a new crop of healthy adult oysters year after year.
Want to become an oyster gardener? Attend a new gardener seminar or sign our volunteer registration form and someone will get back to you soon.
See oyster gardening in action with this video from nbcwashington.com