Charleston Magazine's Guide to Lowcountry Oysters

Charleston Magazine's Guide to Lowcountry Oysters

Charleston owes a love letter to the Lowcountry oyster (Crassostrea virginica). We have savored its delicate meat for centuries, praising the mildly sweet, creamy, intensely briny flavor. We have vehemently defended its virtues when contrasted with the plumper, more watery cousins from Apalachicola or sweeter, more toothsome relatives in Maine. We have relied on it to perform its age-old duties of filtering our waterways and protecting our banks from erosion. We have burnt its shells to fertilize our fields and crushed them to build early tabby walls and pave 19th-century grand avenues.

We also owe the oyster an apology. At times, we have over-harvested its banks in a manner amounting to clear cutting. Encroaching development creates runoff that, after a good rain, can put the majority of the local industry on a DHEC-induced hold for up to 10 weeks. And we as a community have not been as participatory as we need to be in recycling shells to help regrow beds that we have depleted. We have, in short, taken Lowcountry oysters for granted as a seemingly endless natural resource, ripe for the shucking.

The truth is, our oysters need us now as much as we have ever needed them. Luckily, where there is love, there is hope. A wave of sustainable harvesters are taking the lead in establishing a more healthy relationship with our precious bivalve…

Charleston Oyster Farm:Dive into Sustainable Seafood

Charleston Oyster Farm:Dive into Sustainable Seafood

There's a joke that that says, "Bold was the first man who tried an oyster." But let's be honest, that should actually say, "Brilliant was the first man who tried an oyster." 

I am an addict. Raw, steamed, fried, or in a shooter, you can send them all my way! The best part, as I've recently learned?

Eating farmed oysters is actually good for the planet. 

And since an estimated 85% of wild oyster reefs on planet earth have already been lost... 

Food matters. Your choice matters.

And Caitlyn, Tom, and Pete of Charleston Oyster Farm know that better than most…

College of Charleston Alumni Spotlight

College of Charleston Alumni Spotlight

Caitlyn Mayer (EVSS ’16) knows a thing or two about quality – most notably, water quality.

So it’s no surprise she is one of the contributing founders to one of the few local oyster farms within the Charleston peninsula, Charleston Oyster Farm. After finishing her research on enhancing water quality in the ACE Basin, SC through the M.S. Environmental Studies program, Caitlyn decided to apply those skills to break into the lucrative and renowned Charleston hospitality industry.

Similar to the popular “farm-to-table”  concept cultivated by several local restaurants, Charleston Oyster Farm abides by the “marsh-to-table” approach, delivering fresh oysters to your dock, doorstep, or establishment. Their mission centers around promoting ecosystem awareness and decreasing harsh environmental stressors, while continuing to distribute a quality product fundamental to culture of the Lowcountry. Caitlyn and her crew use bottom cages, allowing oysters to brine in the winter at low tide for maximum flavor and preventing little unmentionables (i.e. barnacles or algae) from attaching to their shells – thus creating a cleaner and easier cut for oyster shuckers….

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Local oyster farming operations enhance holiday menus

Local oyster farming operations enhance holiday menus

Oysters have appeared on Thanksgiving tables in the Lowcountry since the advent of the holiday in the South, yet the bivalve this year may figure directly into celebrants’ expressions of gratitude, since the local crop’s future is looking brighter.

The number of oyster mariculture operations in South Carolina has doubled since 2015, with two companies now practicing in the Charleston area. Additionally, the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium has been awarded federal funds to further the industry, which has contributed to the economic development of other coastal states….

Twin brothers Peter and Tom Bierce, along with their partner Caitlyn Mayer, were the first to raise oysters from seed in the Charleston area. The trio last year secured a lease on underwater acreage in Green Creek off the Stono River, which they christened Charleston Oyster Farm…

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Growth of SC oyster industry could spur more culinary tourism along the state's coast

Great feature in the Post & Courier by Stephanie Barna! This article introduces our plan to start agritourism around town! Read for more details and stay tuned for when we launch our OysTours!