New Oyster Gardeners

Getting Started as a New Oyster Gardener


Did you know a single adult oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water a day? Imagine how clear our waterways would be if we had more oysters! You can help us! By becoming an oyster gardener, you actually become a "foster parent" for a few hundred baby oysters. Plus it's a fun activity for all ages. Oysters are the easiest pets you'll ever own because everything they need to survive is in the water. Join a community of over 300 citizens in Virginia who are doing what they can to clean up the water.

2018 Schedule

If you would like to participate in CBF's Oyster Gardening Program, follow these steps:

  1. Register for a New Gardener Seminar to learn about oyster gardening and how to grow spat-on-shell (baby oysters set on recycled shells that grow into natural reef-like clumps). We ask that all new oyster gardeners attend a seminar before gardening their first year. Seminars are held in June. Registration will open in May. Check scheduled locations and dates.

    The seminar will help you learn how to maintain your oyster garden throughout the coming year. After the seminar you will receive spat-on-shell oysters and two 18" x 10" cages to grow them in. Sign up early because space and materials are limited.  

    There is a required fee of $25 per spat-on-shell setup to offset program costs.  

  2. Return your mature one year-old oysters each June at an Oyster Roundup, where they will be transported to Virginia sanctuary reefs. Once on the reefs, your oysters will continue growing and spawning to help increase local oyster populations. You can pick up new spat-on-shell ($25 per set up) at the next Oyster Roundup. 

If you have any questions about the above process, please contact CBF's Hampton Roads Office at 757-644-4125 or at

**Please wear gloves and relevant protective clothing while handling your oyster shells or cages in order to prevent waterborne illness.**

CBF is proud to once again partner with Lynnhaven River NOW and the Elizabeth River Project to help expand our oyster gardening program. The Oyster Gardening event in Virginia Beach is co-hosted by Lynnhaven River NOW. The Oyster Gardening event in Norfolk for RiverStar Homes and RiverStar businesses is co-hosted by the Elizabeth River Project.

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