Spit Spat

Anyone can be an oyster gardener.

Heather North of CBF and Graham Mitchell pick out oyster spat.

Photo by Kenny Fletcher / courtesy of CBF

Like the idea of farming but hate dirt? The Chesapeake Bay Foundation has just the thing for your particular agricultural urge: oyster gardening. If you can claim a spot at a dock, yours or a friend’s—it’s a worthy cause but please don’t trespass!–community pier or marina for two 18-by-10-inch cages, the foundation will supply you with 1,000 to 2,000 spat, a.k.a. oyster seeds, which come attached to shells already loaded into the cages. Drop them in the water, give them a shake every now and then and nine months later … presto, like magic you’ve got a cage full of oysters. New gardeners must attend a workshop and pay a $25 fee. Unlike vegetables from your backyard garden however, you don’t get to eat them. The foundation takes them to one of Virginia’s growing number of oyster sanctuary beds where they will spend their lives filtering water for us to swim in. When’s the last time a vegetable did something like that for you? CBF.org


This article originally appeared in our Smoke & Salt 2018 issue.

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