New Oyster Gardeners

oyster gardeners in virginia 695x352

CBF teaches new oyster gardeners everything they need to know to get their new charges off to a healthy start.

Kenny Fletcher/CBF Staff

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.

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 one of our New Gardener seminars before gardening their first year. Register now for events in June and July.

    The seminar will help you learn how to maintain your oyster garden throughout the coming year.

    This year, due to COVID-19 social distancing measures, we have adjusted our oyster gardening seminar process. New oyster gardeners will be required to review a "How To" guide teaching you how to maintain your oyster garden throughout the coming year in lieu of an in-person seminar class.

    At the event, you will pick-up your spat-on-shell (baby oysters set on recycled shells), two 18" x 9" cages to grow them in, line, and reusable zip ties.

    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 summer 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

Share Your Clean Water Story

What does the Bay, its rivers and streams mean to you? What impact have the Bay and its local waters had on your life? We'd like to know.

Share Your Story

Stay Up-to-Date on Bay News

Want to stay up-to-date on all news and happenings in your region and across the Chesapeake watershed? Join our digital community.

Sign Up
This website uses cookies to tailor and enhance your online experience. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. For more information, including details on how to disable cookies, please visit our Privacy Policy. Close