The February meeting of the Seabrook Island Garden Club featured an informative program on oyster farming by Maddi Piascik, Immersive Marketing Specialist for the Barrier Island Oyster Company. Originally from Richmond, VA, Maddi is an alumna of the University of South Carolina where she majored in Communications and Public Relations. Her extensive travels and work with various conservation efforts lead her back to South Carolina to work with a company that utilizes sustainable fishing practices.
The Barrier Island Oyster Company was founded in 2015 by Josh Eboch and Kendra Tidwell who were interested in developing a way to farm superior oysters. While oyster farming was being done in parts of the Northeast, the founders were interested in bringing the process to the South. The Barrier Island Oyster Company was the first oyster farm established in the Charleston area. Their farm is located in the Ocella Creek off the North Edisto River and is two miles from the ocean.
The process of farming oysters is fairly labor intensive. The entire process takes approximately a year and a half from seed to plate. The company currently purchases oyster seeds from Georgia but are in the process of developing their own local seeds. The oysters are grown in floating cages, and each oyster must be cleaned, chipped, and sorted before being sent to market. Approximately 95% of all oysters are farm raised and 5% are wild caught. Farming allows oysters to be produced year round, and the local habitats largely determine the flavor of the oysters. Currently the Barrier Island Oyster Company sells oysters to many of the local restaurants but individuals can purchase Sea Clouds at Whole Foods Market.
Not only are oysters good for you but they significantly impact the overall health of the ecosystem. From a consumption point of view, oysters are rich in B-12, iron, selenium, B-6, copper, zinc, magnesium, calcium and vitamin D. From an ecological perspective, oyster farms protect against coastal erosion and improve water quality by absorbing excess carbon and nitrogen from the water. One oyster can filter up to 40 gallons of water per day.
Maddi concluded by inviting the group to schedule a tour and waterfront oyster tasting. Her contact information is email@example.com.
Upcoming Garden Club events include a February field trip to Hyams Garden and Accent Store to learn about succulents and an April trip to the Charleston Tea Garden.
-Submitted by Susan McLaughlin, Seabrook Island Garden Club
(Image credits: Susan McLaughlin)