2020 was brutal for Rogue Oysters -- and the entire oyster industry. We did not come out unscathed as we only sold 20% of what we had available, but we are committed to making the most out of a tough situation.
Friends of the Rappahannock (FOR) has a goal of restoring 125 acres of oyster beds in the lower Rappahannock by 2025 and we've been committed to helping! We're partnering with FOR to use Rogue's soon-to be-cageless excess oysters in oyster reef restoration projects including a joint venture. We're giving oyster lovers the opportunity to sponsor oysters in their transition to oyster reefs throughout the Rappahannock.
For every dollar donated to FOR, we will put at least two oysters into one of their reef projects. For every 10 oysters that get sponsored, we’ll donate an oyster.
Tex-deductible oyster sponsorships will be collected online (here) by FOR and the oysters will be used at FOR's discretion. These tax-deductible sponsorships will contribute to FOR's restoration efforts in the Rappahannock River while also supporting our farm as we emerge from the pandemic and try to get back on track. We think of it as a win-win given that contributions are simultaneously supporting oyster restoration and oyster aquaculture committed to sustainable practices!
The oysters we're using are mature oysters at a three inch or greater size; this means that as soon as they are placed on the reef, these mature oysters will already be able to filter up to 50 gallons of water a day -- making it easier for grasses to grow and provide habitats for sea creatures. While the oysters are very unlikely to reproduce, they will still provide all of the other benefits that oyster reefs are famous for and provide the shell so desperately needed for oyster larvae to set on and establish habitats.
[To learn more about the benefits of oyster reefs, check out this article from NOAA covering all the ways reefs help the environment and the economy.]
Exactly where the oysters end up will depend a bit on how many oysters end up getting donated. The first location is going to be Meachim Creek in Topping. The image above show our farm and the planned site. The yellow star is the farm and the red star is the planned site.
The image below is a close-up of the site in the creek. The area in red is the target area for restoration. This is the location where we put down some oysters last year and we are excited that it is going to be part of FOR’s larger restoration effort! A couple of other likely locations are Urbanna Creek and Carter’s Creek, both of which are active FOR restoration sites. The more oysters that are sponsored, the more oysters there are to spread around!
While we could just donate these oysters (and we will definitely donate our fair share), we’re a small farm that needs the revenue to survive. We've already put in the work raising these oysters, and taking a total loss on them would be a great challenge for the farm to overcome, possibly too great. Sponsoring oysters for our project with FOR allows you to support a family farm and reef restoration.
If this project speaks to you, please visit FOR's donation page here to make a donation and don't hesitate to share with others who might also want to support this effort.