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 today's oyster population is a small fraction of what it used to be. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Oyster Gardening Program gives citizens an 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?
First time oyster gardeners are required to attend a short seminar in June to learn how to maintain their oyster garden over the coming year. At the end of the seminar, they will have the option to take home spat-on-shell oysters (baby oysters set on recycled shells) and two 18" x 10" cages to grow them in. Gardeners will grow and care for their oysters in the cages for about one year and will return the mature adult oysters to CBF at an Oyster Round Up the following June. All of the returned oysters are transplated onto sancutary (non-harverst) reefs in nearby waters. Each oyster gardener can then start over with a new batch of baby oysters to care for.
See oyster gardening in action with this video from nbcwashington.com