First The Seed
First the SeedThe whole process begins once we get our hands on clam and oyster seed. These young shellfish are barely visible to the naked eye at less than 1mm in size. Because of their vulnerability to predators and natural elements, the shellfish begin their lives in plankton-rich tanks that circulate water to stimulate development. This “force-feeding” is essential to the growing process. Clams are spread across fine screens and left to grow while oysters must be washed and separated daily to prevent them from bonding together as they mature. If all goes accordingly, the oysters should double in volume every few days.
Out To The Bay
Out To The BayOnce the seeds are large enough to thrive in a natural environment, they are taken out to Hungars Creek for further growth. After oysters reach about 4mm, we place them in growing bags and inside cages on elevated racks in the shallow coastal waters. Since clams live in the substrate (underwater sediment layer), their seeds must reach at least 12mm before they can be planted and covered in mesh netting for protection. The bags and netting keep predators out and allow in nutrients to reach the shellfish. Proper nutrition means rapid growth in the first few months.
GrowthOur oysters are grown in the protected waters of Hungars Creek located in Northhampton County, a place known and respected for the flavor of our fresh waters. The ever-changing tides provide a constant flow of algae and minerals, which these creatures rely heavily on for essential growth. We turn oysters regularly and divide them into gauge bags to control size and shape. The bags are flipped, brushed clean and rotated weekly to maintain cleanliness and uniformity. We raise clams on the Chesapeake Bay and on the Seaside of the Eastern Shore to provide the best of both waters. Once clam seeds are covered, we anchor the mesh netting with gravel bags and often check the beds for any disturbances. We let nature take over and allow the clams to grow for 12 to 18 months until they are plump and ready for harvest.
HarvestWhen it comes time to harvest, sometime around mid-October, we clean, sort by size and pack for shipping. Grading our product is probably one of the most time-consumer, yet most important, steps. Taking our time on this to-do ensures our oysters are of great quality and fresh! Our clams are harvested using low-impact hand dredges and we hand grade, pack and ship that same day. This hands-on approach and fast turnaround allows us to provide fresh clams along the entire East Coast.