Many years ago, sheep grazed here at Bayfields. More recently, my grandparents raised chickens and tended large vegetable and flower gardens. My father used a donkey cart to deliver crabs that he caught in the West River.
I grew up in this tradition, learning about farming from my grandparents, and catching crabs and fish to sell to my neighbors. Currently I am experimenting with aquaculture. I “planted” thousands of oysters in Popham Creek l. I got the oyster spat from Circle C Oyster Ranching. Rich Pelz has been doing a lot of work to breed oysters that grow quickly and are disease resistant. They are plump with thin, easy open shells. All this without GMOs!
I love Rich’s plan for growing the oysters: For millions of years, oysters thrived on the bottom of the bay and its tributaries. Now, though, the water in the bay is so murky that the light does not reach the bottom, so there’s no longer enough food or oxygen for them there. With Rich’s plan, my oysters get to grow in bags which protect them from predators, and with floats to keep them on the surface, where all the algae and oxygen is. One oyster filters 55 gallons of water a day. So not only am I growing tasty food, I am cleaning the Chesapeake Bay too!
So travel to see us at Bayfields Bed and Breakfast, to see our “home oyster aquiculture project” cleaning the bay.
-Holly Heintz Budd