Monday, February 17, 2014

Shoving Off

At long last, I am ready to grow oysters.

Though spring seems a long ways off, I am making the final arrangements to buy the last of my equipment and my first batch of oyster seed.

It has been a long road.

The first inkling of the idea came when I was living on Peaks Island in 2007. Aquaculture seemed a natural fit for me, combining disparate interests in food, biology and horticulture. It was commercial fishing, but managed to be good for the environment. Still, it seemed unattainable or at least risky. I was just out of college. I knew little about animal husbandry. I would need to buy a boat. I was just getting my feet wet working in wildlife biology.

The idea would stick with me, through a number of years and an assortment of very odd jobs.

In 2010, after spending the better part of a year in Montana, it finally stuck. Though I was having a spectacular time working with sandhill cranes and seeing wolves close-up in the wild, I missed the ocean. I missed Maine. Growing oysters seemed the right path.

After returning home, I started researching growing techniques. I scoured maps for suitable locations. I bought a work boat. I learned how to rehabilitate the boat, because it turns out it needed it.

I had a lot of help and support along the way from my parents, my girlfriend Kat, my grandparents (who put up with sanding, grinding, and painting in their driveway for what seemed like an eternity), and my friend Eric, who managed to know how to fix each problem I ran into- including the impressive spiderweb of wires in the boat's fusebox.

I also had an incredible amount of support from Dana Morse at UMAINE's Cooperative Extension, who was an endless source of knowledge of all things aquaculture.

As these last puzzle pieces come together, I am excited and a little nervous. What has been theoretical is becoming very, very real. I've put in the time planning and researching. I'm ready to get out on the water!