The Cottage City Oyster Farming Process

It's farming, not fishing. So it all starts with... 

The Seed

Oyster seed is created in a hatchery. Like a greenhouse, oysters are able to spawn and grow babies earlier than when naturally sets occur. This gives the farmer a jump on the season, growing seed bigger, faster, and using disease resistant parents as the broad stock. Each Spring, we pick up the seed from the hatchery- which can be as small as this period . The seed is kept moist on the ride home and to help the seed adjust, we usually play Led Zepplin, Tool, or any other variety of Rock music. Once home, the seed is promptly placed into a grow-out nursery suited for its specific size and weight, where it will spend the next three years on the farm. 

The Vineyard has always been a special place for a number of reasons, and our oyster farms are no exception. Unlike most oyster farms in New England, Cottage City Oysters are grown in deep, cold water and remain submerged underwater for 99% of their lives. This allows the oysters to feed 24 hours a day, unlike farms whose oysters are expose to the air during a low tide. This exposure causes the oysters to hold their breath until the next high tide comes in. Cottage City Oyster's don't experience this stress, and it's all because of... 
 

The Cages

Unique to deep water sites, our cages are designed to sit securely on the ocean bottom, protecting the oysters from natural predators while still maintaining a good amount of water flow. Cottage City Oysters benefit from the clean, swift moving waters of the Vineyard Sound as this powerful water-flow ensures a steady supply of clean food while deterring disease which can breed in stagnant pond water. The cages are brought to the surface and cleaned while the oysters are graded by size and restocked into their fresh cages. This cleaning process happens a couple times a year and wouldn't be possible without...
 

The Raft

Our home away from home. Built entirely from eco-friendly green products, the raft is where we spend the majority of our days. All of the raft's equipment runs off of electricity that are powered by two solar power panels mounted to the work table. During the cleaning cycle, we grade the oysters for size and shape, making sure to keep uniform size oysters together in the grow cages. Each oyster is handled hundreds of times on the farm and finally reaches a market size after about three years. Once they reach this age we begin... 
 

Culling


Cottage City Oysters are selected the old fashion way, by hand. It takes a farmer years to develop an eye for Cottage City Oysters. Visually it must be plump with a nicely rounded shaped cup, dulled edges as not to cut the hands of our consumers and clean, with a minimum of blemishes. Oysters grow at different speeds, and we make sure that uniformity is our middle name. We take pride in selecting the oysters which only have these attributes, which is why Cottage City Oysters can be trusted by world renown chefs time and time again. Over the three years on the farm, it takes hundreds of hours to develop these key attributes, and culling is when we get to see the fruits of our labor. 

 

The Market

Our commitment to perfection does not stop on the farm. After the oysters have been culled and clean, we promptly sell the oysters to the market. In fact, we will not pull our oysters from the water unless we know they are being sold that same day. This ensures the freshest product possible, straight from the water to your table. It takes a lot to get them there, but we know you enjoy it as much as we do.