Our process begins when we purchase Crassostrea Virginica oyster seed at the 1 mm size, translating into a few grains of sand.
The oyster seed, or 'spat', is first placed in a floating upweller system (see photo) consisting of multiple silos with graduated mesh bottoms. Bay water, rich in algae and other nutrients, is circulated through the silos by an electric pump at 1,000 gallons/min.
The oyster spat grow very fast; the water flow in combination with the warm temperatures often cause the spat to reach 5/8" in a matter of several weeks. When the oysters reach this size they must be transferred into wire mesh cages and placed in the open Bay waters using our skiff. Every few weeks the oysters are hauled out of the water, cleaned, divided into new cages to accommodate their quickly growing volume, and returned to the Bay.
Periodically our oysters are chipped in our mechanical tumbler -- the tumbling action chips the edges of the oysters resulting in stronger shell and deeper cup. Our tumbler also serves a dual purpose by sorting the oysters according to size. After tumbling and sorting, they are placed back in cages and returned to the water.
The oysters reach a mature length of 3" in approximately 15 months. At this point, the oysters receive a final wash, are hand-placed in boxes, and delivered immediately in refrigerated trucks.