The Farm:

Spring Creek Oyster Company
                       
The  Farm  at  Barnstable  Harbor:

 The Spring Creek Oyster Farm consists of 5 acres of subtidal land leased from the Town of Barnstable in Barnstable Harbor. Every tide the tidal flats are exposed from 3-5 hours depending on the height of the tide and are excessible only by boat. During this time is when the majority of the work is done on the farm. The two types of shellfish currently being grown on our farms are oysters and quahogs, both having completely different grow out processes.

Oyster Grow Out Process:

     We first receive the oyster seed from the hatchery at about 2mm in size. The oysters are put into growout bags starting with a very fine mesh bag. As the oysters grow, doubling in size every week for the first few weeks, they are put into larger mesh bags. The reason for putting them into larger mesh bags is to increase the flow of water through the bag so they get more food. More flow more grow! Also, as they are put into larger mesh bags they are thinned out so they do not exceed the amount the bag can handle; think of it as a popcorn effect. These bags are suspended off the bottom of the tidal flat using different methods. The two methods they we currently use are wooden racks and floating bags. The wooden racks are suspended off the bottom using wooden stakes that are driven into the ground and the bags are then secured to the racks using zip-ties. The floating bag system is done by first rigging the bags with styrofoam. These bags are then attached to cables which are anchored to the bottom allowing the bags to be suspended in the water column. 

    The oysters continue to grow in the bags for their entire first growing season. In the second season of growing, the oysters are put into growout trays. These trays are made out of wire much like a lobster trap. The trays are set right on bottom of the tidal flat and hold the oysters until they reach marketable size.

Quahog Grow Out Process:

    After puchasing the quahog seed from the hatchery at about 2mm, they are put into nursery boxes. These boxes are 4 ft by 4 ft in dimension and are only about 2 inches in height. The boxes are filled with clean sand to make sure there are no predators. After filled with sand, 50k quahog seed are spread into each box and then a fine mesh screen is used to cover it. These boxes are placed directly on the bottom and stay there until the quahogs grow to about 5mm in size. Once they reach this size they are then transferred out of the box and broadcasted on the tidal flat and covered with a 10ft. by 12ft. tented nursery net to keep predators from eating them. When they are about 10 to 15mm in size they are transfered to a larger net once here, they will stay under that net until they reach marketable size which takes about 2 to 3 years. During this time the nets have to constantly be maintaned making sure they do not get covered in "silt", very fine sand and muck, and do not get an abundance of bio-growth, both of which will suffocate the quahogs and kill them.

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