Oyster Farming in Duxbury

I recently visited Island Creek Oysters in Duxbury, MA to get a better idea of how oyster farming works. They start with seed oysters purchased from Maine — one million of them fit into a small backpack. They are raised for a while in “upwellers” which are boxes fitted underneath the ends of docks that provide a constant flow of water using small 1/2 horsepower pumps. Once they get a bit larger, they are transferred to mesh bags and put onto floats. They are finally transferred to the bay, simply shoveling them out of the boats using a snowshovel. Then they were harvested by dragging the bottom.

We will be using their oysters for our November 7 Fannie Farmer dinner to be held in Boston. The first course was almost always oysters and these are terrific. The FrenchLaundry buys their oysters here among others.

This is where the tiny seed oysters are first placed -- the upwellers sit underneath the ends of docks.

This is where the tiny seed oysters are first placed -- the upwellers sit underneath the ends of docks.

These boxes hold the seed oysters == they need to be washed down frequently to remove waste and improve growing conditions.

These boxes hold the seed oysters == they need to be washed down frequently to remove waste and improve growing conditions.

These oysters have grown large enough to be moved to the bay.

These oysters have grown large enough to be moved to the bay.

She used to work at Daily Candy and now grows oysters for a living.

She used to work at Daily Candy and now grows oysters for a living.

Oysters need to be sorted for size before bringing them to market.

Oysters need to be sorted for size before bringing them to market.

These baskets are ferried to shore and then to the shop where they are distributed.

These baskets are ferried to shore and then to the shop where they are distributed.

This dredger scrapes the oysters off the bottom into the net.

This dredger scrapes the oysters off the bottom into the net.

Published in: on August 3, 2009 at 11:30 am  Comments (28)  

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28 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Always enjoy your observations on food, Vermont and country life.
    I just helped a friend of mine move to New Hampshire from here in Indiana. I’ll be visiting her often.
    The one thing I loved was going to the “town dump” or as it is called there – “the transfer station”. Everything is recycled and they even have an “exchange” area. I joke to my friend that I’ll have to go back to do my book shopping at the town dump because I got two beautiful books there this time.

  2. Your web site is great….your tv show is even greater….your chefs and testers are the best. I’m the fellow from Colorado Springs who has been trying to master the baking art of the Ciabatta. Still working. Any advise is welcome.

  3. You-all are FIRST CLASS OPERATION.

  4. I have been enjoying and learning from your informative and creative posts for a while now and wanted to say thank you for sharing your life with me. In my heart I live in your area with farm animals and country fairs and parades of neighbors. Through your sharing and of course you as a TV personality sitting in my den every week I feel like we are friends.
    I enjoy your emails and look forward to them every month.
    Hugs
    pat

  5. I just love your photos of the goings on in your home town.

    Christie Kovac

  6. Island Creek Oysters are the very best! Even though we live in PA.. We look for them when ever we go out. They are wonderful, sweet and tangy.

  7. LIFE LOOKS SO SIMPLE AND WONDERFUL TO ME UP THERE.
    I AM A CITY GAL BUT WOULD CHANGE MY PLACE FOR A NICHE
    UP THERE. HOPE SOMEDAY TO VISIT THERE AND MAYBE MAKE IT
    MY PLACE TO REMAIN FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE. THANK YOU,
    ALL OF YOU FOR THE WOMDERFUL PICTURES.

  8. I never knew that was how they did it. That was very interesting. I’m not an oyster eater but I will look for pearls in them. Thanks for letting me see these photos.

  9. Mr. Kimball,

    I have just discovered this as a possible way to write you. I wanted to say thank you for your TV show on PBS but mostly for your letters from Vermont about home life. I think the older I become the more I long for a simpler, quieter life around good dirt, trees, animals, family and friends. It seems you have all those things and I enjoy reading about them. Thank you for sharing.

    Sincerely,
    Norm in Apache Junction, AZ

  10. Do you like oysters?? I tried oysters on the half shell when I was a kid & haven’t had any since.. Yuk!!!

  11. Dear Mr. Kimball, I absolutely love your letters from Vermont and am happy to be on your mailing list. Alas, I have celiac disease and when I read many of your recipes and descriptions of what I am sure are dishes that are just scumptious to eat…well I sometimes bemoan my fate. Do you ever include meals and eats for those who have a dietary challenge? Regards, Janet

  12. I love this story. I also love the “cyber” techniques that have been used on this page, the “automatically generated” and the backtrack url.

    Mostly, I want to say that as a former Marylander, from Cypress Creek/Severna Park/Magothy River girl, whose uncle in St. Micheals used to dig up his own oysters at the end of his pier, it is wonderful to see how this process might make up for the loss of water stability in the Bay areas. The best oysters, to my taste, were the Chinquetigue (sp?)and, here in Florida, the Appalachacola. We used to be able to get Appalachacolas in the grocery store but now only those huge ones from California. They just are so troublesome! Never can rely on them for a proper stew as they are too big and parts of them get tough before the other parts are done!

  13. Thanks for the wonderful insights!!!!!

  14. I absolutely love your stories of daily life and the pictures are great. Keep up the good work and thank you for sharing with others. Betty Noyes

  15. just wondering – just made ultimate veggie burger (august 05) and no direction on freezing unused patties – need a recommendation please – BTW – absolutely delicious – worth the trouble – will do them again and again – thanks!

  16. Your letters are most enjoyable. I would love to visit your farm but won’t so you can have your privicy. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with all of us. Keep them coming.

  17. Hello,

    I love oysters and prefer them raw. I once held a record for most eaten at our local all you can eat oyster spot. (15 dozen). I really enjoyed this information.

    Thanks

  18. It’s so interesting to see this operation and I appreciate the “natural” approach to producing these oysters. This is like a window on a world that I am not familiar with. Thanks so much for sharing.

  19. Hi Christopher,
    I so enjoy your letters from Vermont. My folks moved us from Leominster, MA to Brattleboro, VT when I was about 5 or 6. We lived on a farm there for a year and I never wanted to leave. But Dad dragged out to sunny California. Never cared for then when I got married I ended up here in AZ.
    I enjoyed this bit about the oysters but only one picture came through.
    Looking forward to more news.
    My best to you and yours,
    Mary White

  20. Thank you, that was really fast. The pictures are great.

  21. I enjoy your “letters” from up north, and I appreciated this story about oysters. I’m from the Midwest, so the closest thing I’ve ever seen to a bivalve is an Ohio River mussel. Keep up the good work!

  22. Hi,
    I did enjoy seeing the pictures of the oysters. I just wished I lived in your area to be able to enjoy the freshnes.
    Thanks, for sharing the pictures.

    Patty

  23. I enjoy your letters and TV show so very much. Have cooked many of the recipes I fond on the show, and have had very good luck with the cooking suggestions. Bring that show on the road, we in Colorado would love to see you up close and personl. We have scenery to offer, and the vest Vet school in the nation at CSU, plus a lot of very nice western folks who are friendly and smart. AND LOVE TO EAT! Bring Bridget…she is a show all by herself. Right now we have lovely farmers markets going on with Palisade peaches, Rocky Ford Cantelops, and fresh Olatha corn in glorious condition. Added to that in Fort Collins we have clean iar, good water, and friendly folks. The only problem is that our fish are german brown trout or rainbows. That is not really a problem. Wish I had been in Saratoga this week to see the Travers..saw it on TV,so guess that is the next best thing. No horse racing in Colorado…cept what you can challange a neighbor for.

  24. I enjoy reading your letters from Vermont. Vistited the area many years ago to see the fall colors. It is so different from Hawaii; it is quite fascinating! I see your show on public television in Hawaii and also subscribe to Cooks Country and Cooks Illustrated. Love them all!

  25. Could I do this in bay in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia ?

  26. Thanks a million Christopher for your delightful stories, just love them all, it gives a person who lives in Auckland, New Zealand, a small ‘taste’ of Vermont country life. Your place is on my ‘bucket list’!
    In NZ we are rather spoilt with ubundant seafood. Two oyster favourites are the beautiful fat sweet plump Pacific oysters as well as the world renowned briney Bluff oyster which grows in Foveaux Straight, a stretch of sea between the lower South Island and Stewart Island. We tend to eat them in their natural state-out of the shell- on ice with just a squeeze of lemon or balsamic, a grind of black pepper and maybe a small slice of buttered brown bread. We also love battered and fried oysters and a favourite of mine is a creamy oyster soup with a hint of grated nutmeg on top. -yum.

  27. Dear Christopher,
    I love your stuff, and I think you are great. That said, I wanted to let you know that I am having trouble ordering your cook books. The company you sell through will not allow me to order just the ones I want. They want me to sign up for monthly additions that if I wanted, I would order. Of course, I could make special trips to the post and return them, but why should I have to do all of that? Please tell them to stop. You have a quality product; however, they are disrespecting us both by using these annoying sales tactics. I just want to order the books I want without joining the book of the month club.

    • cs for CPK – if you would like to email jacqui in our customer service department she is aware of your situation and very happy to help you! her email is Jacqui.Valerio@AmericasTestKitchen.com. good luck!


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