the farm

the farm

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Located between the finger of Seapit Peninsula in East Falmouth, Cape Cod and the pine-shaded bluffs of Washburn Island, which is part of a state park in Waquoit Bay, our 22.8-acre oyster farm is ideally suited for aquaculture.

Fed by nutrient-laden, fresh water from the Moonakis and Little Rivers and the salt water tides from Vineyard Sound, Seapit River creates the perfect chemistry for growing succulent, hearty oysters.

Nestled in loose, fine sand and bathed by the channel’s shallow, fertile waters, Washburn Island Oysters enjoy optimal salinity and temperatures for fast growth, elegant cupping and premium taste.

Because oysters feed on naturally-occurring nutrients and algae in the water, they help regulate the bay’s ecological balance. Where wild oyster reefs once lay fallow, our farm helps improve the native habitat and attracts other aquatic species to the area.

As a state-certified propagator, Washburn Island Oysters grows its own seed to a size suitable for grow-out after purchasing it from a hatchery. Measuring 1 mm, these miniscule oysters spend four weeks under loving care in the nursery, one of several on-site flupsy upwellers.

Under a steady stream of nutrient-rich seawater, these baby oysters overcome the odds they would have in nature—literally, only one in a million wild oysters make it to maturity.

When the conditions are prime, the mini oysters (now about ½  inch) are carefully placed into a “grow-out” system of floating and bottom cages.

For the next several months, farm staff will keep close watch on their small charges, removing predators, debris and other signs of fouling as the oysters grow to the size of a half dollar.

In the only mechanized step in the whole process, the oysters are removed from the upwellers to be sorted for size in a tumbler. This ensures that the bigger oysters don’t crowd out the smaller ones—a phenomenon known as “suffocation,” but would be better termed “starvation.”

Once sorted, the oysters that have grown to approximately 1 1/2 inches are hand planted in the shallows of the Seapit River, a process that leads to better cupping and coloring of the shell.

From this point on, our oysters are no different from their wild cousins. Though continually monitored for predators and fouling, the oysters remain in the sand until they reach market size.

After 12 to 18 months, Washburn Island Oysters are ready for harvest. Waiting for low tide can be a challenge, but it allows farm staff to gather the crop using the most sustainable method—hand rakes.

After examining each specimen for size and quality, the oysters are hand-washed, bagged and boxed. Ready for shipment—and your plate.