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Chesapeake Bay Foundation: After record-breaking season, oyster gardeners plant oysters

This year, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation volunteer oyster gardeners in Virginia raised and returned about 104,000 oysters.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Oyster gardeners had a record-breaking year, according to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

This year, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation volunteer oyster gardeners in Virginia raised and returned about 104,000 oysters, nearly three times the 39,000 oysters returned in 2018. 

The number of volunteers participating in CBF’s Virginia program increased to 645 in 2019 compared to 415 in 2018.

“We’re seeing more and more interest in oyster gardening as people get excited about the Chesapeake Oyster Alliance goal of adding 10 billion new oysters in the Bay,” said Peyton Mowery, CBF’s Virginia Oyster Restoration Outreach Coordinator. “Oyster gardening is a really fun way that anyone can help bring back oysters and create reefs that provide habitat for fish, crabs, and other critters.”

Oyster gardening volunteers grow oysters in wire cages off a dock either at home or at an official public location. After a year these oysters are planted on sanctuary reefs.

So, to celebrate volunteers and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation oyster experts will plant oysters on a sanctuary reef and demonstrate oyster gardening techniques on August 9.

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The event will take place off the Brock Center dock on the Lynnhaven River. They will tend to wire cages in the water-filled with oysters that filter the water and become home to aquatic life like crab, shrimp, and fish.

The volunteers will then go by boat to a sanctuary reef, where they will plant the oysters they raised throughout the year.  Members of the press can join the boat trip and cover the oyster planting, as well as interview CBF experts and oyster gardening volunteers. 

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The oysters raised by volunteers, along with the millions of oysters raised by Chesapeake Oyster Alliance partners, are helping reach a goal of 10 billion new oysters to the Bay by 2025.