Thursday, December 1, 2022

Oyster gardeners, listen up. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation needs you

Graham Mitchell of Norfolk picks out oysters to raise at an oyster gardening event with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Heather Lockwood. (Southside Daily/Courtesy of Kenny Fletcher-Chesapeake Bay Foundation)
Graham Mitchell of Norfolk picks out oysters to raise at an oyster gardening event with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Heather Lockwood. (Southside Daily/Courtesy of Kenny Fletcher-Chesapeake Bay Foundation)

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is having oyster gardening workshops this summer across Hampton Roads for volunteers to support a goal of adding 10 billion new oysters to the Bay by 2025.

The workshops provide everything necessary to grow oysters off a dock for eventual planting on sanctuary oyster reefs.

“Raising your own baby oysters is both a fun and rewarding activity for all ages,” said Peyton Mowery, CBF’s Virginia Oyster Restoration Outreach Coordinator. “By becoming an oyster gardener, you’re helping to bring back a key species while also creating reefs right in your local waterways that provide crucial habitat for fish and crabs.”

The process involves raising oysters in cages suspended in the water from a dock at home or a marina, Foundation officials said.

Don’t live on the water? CBF can help find interested gardeners a public location.

Over the course of a year, gardeners raise oysters that filter water and provide habitat for aquatic life. After a year, CBF places the oysters on a Virginia sanctuary reef.

The workshops provide everything necessary to grow oysters off a dock for eventual planting on sanctuary oyster reefs. (Southside Daily/Courtesy of Kenny Fletcher-Chesapeake Bay Foundation)
The workshops provide everything necessary to grow oysters off a dock for eventual planting on sanctuary oyster reefs. (Southside Daily/Courtesy of Kenny Fletcher-Chesapeake Bay Foundation)

CBF’s oyster gardening seminar teaches oyster growing basics to new gardeners and provides them with a growing setup and baby oysters, according to the Foundation. On the same day, CBF holds “round-ups” where returning gardeners can swap out their full-grown oysters for new baby oysters.

In Hampton Roads, CBF will have seminars the following dates and locations:

  • Saturday, June 8, at 9 a.m. at the Brock Environmental Center in Virginia Beach;
  • Thursday, June 13, at 6 p.m. at the Norfolk Yacht & Country Club;
  • Thursday, June 27, at 6 p.m. at VMRC at 380 Fenwick Road in Hampton;
  • Tuesday, July 9, at 6 p.m. at Smithfield Station;
  • Saturday, July 13, at 9 a.m. at Queens Lake Marina Clubhouse in Williamsburg;
  • Tuesday, July 23, at 6 p.m. at the Mariners’ Museum in Newport News.

Registration is required, and a $25 fee helps offset the cost of the program. Participants can register online or call 757/644-4125 or e-mail OysterGardener@cbf.org.

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