Community Shellfish Farming on Bainbridge Island
Parent Category: Growing
Created on Tuesday, 28 April 2009 18:53
Written by Morgan Rohrbach
“A dozen local oysters and a pint of Agate Pass Amber, please” is something I look forward to hearing from a Harbour Public House patron in the not too distant future.
Puget Sound Restoration Fund (PSRF), a local non-profit, is partnering with diverse local entities to create a ¼-acre Community Shellfish Farm (CSF) on the Bloedel Reserve tidel
ands on the north end of Bainbridge Island. The Bloedel Community Shellfish Farm is the third CSF that PSRF has launched in Puget Sound for the express purpose of spurring water quality improvements and engaging local residents in the preservation of healthy marine resources. In the case of both the Drayton Harbor and the Henderson Inlet farms, water quality has improved as a result of this intensive community-based effort to reduce pollution and engage the public.
PSRF has been working with over 50 shellfish gardeners around Bainbridge Island for the last four years. Since the shellfish gardening program’s inception in 2005, gardeners have been cultivating oysters, clams and mussels and attending our annual shellfish gala to celebrate the Sound’s bounty. The success of this program has led to numerous requests from island residents who do not have waterfront but who are equally interested in growing and harvesting shellfish. The intent of the Bloedel CSF is to open this opportunity up to the broader community so that more people get to experience first hand the connection between what we do on land and the health of local waters.
Oysters and clams have long been a traditional food for Puget Sound inhabitants. The Suquamish Tribal members would smoke clams and string them on necklaces that could be snacked upon while working (beats the candy necklaces of today!). Shellfish are still grown and harvested throughout Puget Sound, however many areas that harbor the densest populations of shellfish are now closed to consumption by humans because of our own pollution. The goal of the CSF is threefold: 1) Grow clams and oysters in an area of the island that can still boast clean water. These shellfish can in turn be given to people who get their septic systems inspected and pumped. 2) The CSF will sell shellfish at local area restaurants and Farmer’s Markets while raising awareness of proper land use practices and offering water quality improvement tips. 3) The shellfish will remove Nitrogen from an over nutrified system at the time of harvest (Nitrogen is necessary for human survival, but has overloaded our marine systems).
If you can’t wait until Puget Sound Restoration Fund starts selling their shellfish in 2010, you can buy them today from Town and Country or Central Markets. Additionally, they can be purchased online from Taylor Shellfish (www.taylorshellfishfarms.com), The Olympia Oyster Company (www.olympiaoyster.com) and online seafood retailers (www.farm-2-market). Additionally, Baywater Inc., an island based company that grows shellfish in Hood Canal for Seattle area restaurants, may sell their Baywater Sweets at a few Bainbridge Island Farmers’ Market this year. We have also included four recipes provided by one of our favorite shellfish gardeners, Don Roose. For more information about other PSRF restoration projects please visit our web page www.restorationfund.org
And when you're ready to dive into the local shellfish harvest, here are a few recipes: Babbo's Linguine with Clams and Cream
, Don & Meredith's Clam Linguine
, Babbo's Razor Clam Cakes
, and Broiled Oysters
is the Project Manager for the Bloedel Community Shellfish Farm.