We hand-raise Pacific oysters, Manila clams and Mediterranean mussels on our tidelands in pristine Westcott Bay.
Each Pacific oyster we plant starts around the size of a sunflower seed and reaches maturity in two years. During those two years, we handle each oyster approximately three times in their life cycle. The seeds start in high densities (2,000) in a rack/bag system on our tidelands, where the millions of algae in Westcott Bay float in and out with the tide and feed our little ones. Over the next two years, we decrease the density in each bag to give the oysters more wiggle room. In the last six months before harvest, the oysters are transferred into hanging bags at even lower densities, where they can tumble with the winds and tide. This tumbling provides a deeper-cupped and plumper oyster. Our Westcott Bay oysters are renowned for their briny bite and slightly sweet aftertaste.
Growing clams starts with the toughest job on the farm: hand raking 10x30-foot rectangular beds clean of old shells and rocks. When the beds are prepped, we sew the clam seed much like one would sew wildflower seed: by hand-tossing them (with flair). Next, the beds are covered with netting and anchored down to thwart our neighborhood foxes, crabs, raccoons and seagulls from sneaking a taste. The clams are left alone for three years, after which we hand-harvest each clam (on our hands and knees—the second toughest job on the farm). Once they’ve been harvested, we let the clams sit and spit in our saltwater tanks for a couple of days to ensure they are cleaned of any grit. This process results in the sweetest, plumpest Manila clams known to man. Occasionally you might find a little (1/4") Pea Crab hiding inside your clam. Don't worry, they are completely harmless and edible, and considered a delicacy in some places. They turn white and crunchy when cooked, George Washington is said to have loved Pea Crabs floating in his oyster soup!
Our mussel seed starts out around the size of a sesame seed, and comes to us attached to 20-foot ropes by their byssus (or beards). We place these seeded ropes in lantern nets and suspend the nets off our floats. Mussels are fast growers, and are ready to harvest in 18 months, after two rounds of sorting and decreasing densities. Like our clams, our mussels are plump and sweet to the taste.