The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) is holding oyster gardening workshops this June on the Eastern Shore and in Hampton Roads, the Northern Neck, and Middle Peninsula that allow volunteers to support efforts by the Chesapeake Oyster Alliance to add 10 billion new oysters to the Bay by 2025. These workshops provide everything necessary to grow oysters off of a dock for eventual planting on sanctuary oyster reefs.
"It's an amazing experience to raise your own tiny baby oysters into big adults," said Kelly Davis, CBF's Virginia Oyster Restoration Outreach Coordinator. "You are helping restore an iconic species. These oysters will help create protected reefs that bring back crucial habitat in local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay."
Oyster gardening involves growing oysters in cages suspended in the water from a dock at home or a marina. Over the course of a year, growers raise the oysters, which filter water and provide habitat for aquatic life. After a year, CBF places the oysters on a Virginia sanctuary reef near where they were raised.
CBF's oyster gardening seminar teaches oyster growing basics to new gardeners and provides them with a growing setup and baby oysters. On the same day, CBF holds "round-ups" where returning gardeners can swap out their full-grown oysters for new baby oysters.
Registration is required, and a $25 suggested donation helps offset the cost of the program. Participants can find dates and locations, and register online at www.cbf.org/vaoystergardening or call 757-644-4125 or e-mail OysterGardener@cbf.org.