the oyster farm
It is said that time and tide wait for no man. The Barnstable Harbor oyster farmer lives by this credo. Raising oysters in Barnstable Harbor requires visits to the farm several times per week. Weather permitting. Tide permitting. The oysters are located in the northwest portion of Barnstable Harbor, not far from Sandy Neck. A serpentine approach from Scudders Lane is required in order to avoid grounding the skiff workboat on one of the numerous sandbars encountered en route.
Located in the intertidal area on sandbar, the farm has no water during low tide. This is the time that they can be shaken, sorted, and cleaned. Several hours later, the waters reverse their course and quickly envelop the farm in 12 feet of water, The water carries with it the microscopic phytoplankton that serve as the oysters’ only food; it is this rush of water that provides our oysters a habitat for optimal growth.
During the almost two years it takes to grow an oyster from 2mm seed to 75mm (3 inch) market readies, the oysters are at the mercy of nature. Despite being contained in various mesh bags, plastic cages, and wire mesh growout trays, there are the birds, crabs, and a multitude of other sea creatures, all of which enjoy eating baby oysters. High winds, storm surges, and other acts of nature can and do destoy equipment and scatter the seed as well. But those that successfully make the journey have a delightfully distinctive sweet saltiness that is sought and savored by oyster afficianados from all four corners of the world!