An oyster gardener with three young helpers. Photo by CBF StaffA CBF oyster gardener gets some help from three young assistants. Photo by CBF Staff

New Oyster Gardeners

Getting Started as a New Oyster Gardener

Training seminar registration is now open.>>

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. 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 donation of $30 per spat-on-shell setup to offset program costs. This donation also includes a CBF membership and enables CBF to cover the costs of oyster purchase and transplants.  
  2. Download the Virginia Oyster Gardening information packet (PDF, 2.62 MB, 31 pgs). This packet contains general information  about maintaining an Oyster Garden and includes the required Virginia state registration form. 

  3. 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 ($30 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 757-622-1964 ext. 3303 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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