Chesapeake Bay Foundation Calling New Virginia Oyster Foster Parents

Participants Are Invited to Raise Baby Oysters for Clean Water

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) is calling all interested oyster foster parents to join more than 700 other oyster gardeners across the state in raising oysters that help clean and restore tidal waterways. 

Registration for new oyster gardeners opened this month, with workshops scheduled throughout coastal Virginia this summer.  CBF’s volunteer oyster gardeners support the Chesapeake Oyster Alliance goal of adding 10 billion new oysters to the Bay by 2025. 

“Dogs may be man’s best friend, but oysters are some of the most rewarding pets you’ll ever own. Oyster gardening is a hands-on experience and allows you to interact with the Bay environment in such a positive way,” said CBF Virginia Oyster Restoration Specialist Jessica Lutzow.

CBF’s oyster gardeners, as shown in this video, raise oysters in cages suspended from a dock. But oyster gardening isn’t limited to a private dock. For those who don’t live on the water, CBF can place gardeners at public growing spaces such as nearby marinas or parks that partner with our program. 

The oyster parent journey begins with one of nine oyster gardening workshops hosted by CBF this summer.  These workshops provide everything oyster gardeners will need to grow oysters for eventual planting on sanctuary oyster reefs. The events will take place across Hampton Roads, the Eastern Shore, the Middle Peninsula, and the Northern Neck.  

Over the course of a year, gardeners tend to these oysters, which filter water and provide habitat for aquatic life. After a year, the gardeners return full-grown oysters to CBF, which places them on one of many local sanctuary reefs. CBF’s more than 700 oyster gardeners raise hundreds of thousands of oysters each year at locations across Virginia’s tidal waterways. 

“Our gardeners often develop a connection with their baby oysters as they watch them grow into adults, filtering water and attracting underwater life as they mature,” said CBF Virginia Oyster Restoration Specialist Jessica Lutzow. “Sending them off to a sanctuary reef after their year of care is a fulfilling experience for our oyster parents of all ages because they know they’ve contributed to a healthier Chesapeake Bay.”  

CBF will hold seminars for the following locations and dates this summer:   

  • Virginia Beach Oyster Gardening Seminar I
    • Saturday, June 8, 2024, 9:00-11:00 a.m.
  • Norfolk Oyster Gardening Seminar
    • Thursday, June 13, 2024, 6:00-8:00 p.m.
  • VA Eastern Shore Oyster Gardening Seminar
    • Saturday, June 15, 2024, 9:00-11:00 a.m.
  • Hampton Oyster Gardening Seminar
    • Thursday, June 20, 2024, 6:00-8:00 p.m.
  • Irvington Oyster Gardening Seminar
    • Saturday, June 22, 2024, 9:00-11:00 a.m.
  • Newport News Oyster Gardening Seminar
    • Tuesday, July 23, 2024, 6:00-8:00 p.m.
  • Gloucester Point Oyster Gardening Seminar
    • Thursday, July 25, 2024, 6:00-8:00 p.m.
  • Portsmouth Oyster Gardening Seminar
    • Thursday, August 1, 2024, 6:00-8:00 p.m.
  • Virginia Beach Oyster Gardening Seminar II
    • Saturday, August 3, 2024, 9:00-11:00 a.m.

Registration is required, and a $35 fee helps offset the cost of the program. Participants can register online at or call 757-644-4125 or e-mail [email protected].  


Vanessa Remmers

Virginia Communications & Media Relations Manager, CBF

[email protected]

The Bay Needs You

The State of the Bay Report makes it clear that the Bay needs our support now more than ever. Your donation helps the Chesapeake Bay Foundation maintain our momentum toward a restored Bay, rivers, and streams for today and generations to come.

Donate Today

Save the Bay

Founded in 1967, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) is the largest independent conservation organization dedicated solely to saving the Bay.

Save the Bay
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