Ok, so the title might not be strictly true, but bear with me… This is great!
As part of our tour around Virginia (big thanks Visit Virginia!), we were recommended to eat A LOT of oysters, it’s something of a speciality in these parts… So when we heard about a farm that is currently ‘revolutionising’ oyster farming in the region, we had to check it out!
We drove to a small town called Whitestone where we met up with Tom and Laura, the Posh and Becks of the oyster world (as Barry named them!!)… An incredibly good looking couple who had set up the Whitestone Oyster farm just over a year ago. In fact, Tom was the spitting image of Chris Hemsworth, the dude who plays Thor (see where the title came from now??)!
We started off next to the processing shed where they showed us the tanks full of seed oysters sat in a constant flow of water to make sure they always have fresh algae to eat – important for the growing!!
Inside the processing shed, the noise level was ear bleeding – thousands of oysters being cleaned and sorted to figure out which ones are ready (big enough) to sell, the smaller ones being put into bags ready to go back out to ‘the farm’.
This is where it got really interesting!!
We boarded a boat with our captain, Dr J, who took us out across the Chesapeake Bay and over to a secluded beach where the 6 acre oyster farm had been setup. So what makes this farm so different? Well, Tom and Laura are growing their oysters on the surface of the water, rather than on the sea bed.
This means that the oysters are constantly in flowing water, again providing the fresh algae needed to grow, but also means they’re getting constantly battered by the wind and waves – this helps them grow up big and strong, a bit like us!
After getting the chance to harvest some oysters, like the pros that we are… Ahem, we operated a crane, undid some clips and lifted a bag up… We headed for the beach where Spencer was waiting for us with some pre-shucked oysters on ice and bottles of chilled local white wine… HELLO!!
We ended up spending a good 2 hours (and being very late for our next stop! Oops!) standing ankle deep in the sea, slurping oysters and drinking white wine whilst chatting to Tom and Laura. As well as being blessed with very good looks, they are both SO passionate about their business it’s unbelievable!
In just over a year since getting up and running, the demand for their oysters is outstripping their supply… The quality of them is that special! The amount of time and effort that goes into the farm every single day is phenomenal, it really is created with love!
I really think we could have spent all day chatting, slurping and sipping but we had to move on at some point!
Needless to say though, this day will definitely stay with me – the day we farmed oysters with Thor!!