Rappahannock River Oyster Co. has become a great conservation story here on the Bay. We called and asked for a homeschool tour and took advantage of their generosity. They showed us the different stages of oyster growth. They farm the Crassostrea virginica, the region’s native oyster — and the only legally allowable oyster to grow on the East Coast.
At the farm, oysters are grown in underwater cages that are slightly elevated above the sandy bottom. The experts at RRO say the food quality and quantity is greatly improved at this level. They have a hydraulic lift that easily raises the oyster cages for inspection and harvesting.
This method has been so successful, RRO calls their oyster farms “purely additive.” It’s a totally sustainable method of farming. Oysters grown in these cages go on to reproduce, and those billions of larvae are released back into the wild to further increase the public stocks in the Chesapeake Bay. It’s a win/win situation for all us oyster lovers.
After the nursery tour, we visited Merrior—the oyster tasting room and restaurant next to the farm. The flavors are a bit different depending on where the oysters are raised. The boys tried Olde Salt Oysters and what RRO calls “buttery oysters.” People around here have their favorites. A brave raw slurp… and both their decisions were made.