Oyster Farming Along Maine’s Coast – Innovative Approach Strengthens Coastal Communities
Over the past decade, oyster farming has become increasingly prevalent in Maine’s small coastal communities. Oysters, like all bi-valves (clams, mussels, scallops), are filter feeders, meaning they clean the water as they grow and pick up the distinct “taste” of the water they’re in. This makes them not only tasty but an environmental home run.
One of the most community minded oyster projects in Maine comes from Georgetown Island where a group of local community members and fishermen collaborated to create the Georgetown Island Co-op as a way to hedge against climate change and diversify income streams for a community heavily dependent on lobster. Co-ops are not unique in Maine, there are lobster co-ops up and down the coast; they provide more ownership and control for fishermen. At Luke's, we buy lobster and crab from a number of fishermen’s co-ops throughout Maine.
The Georgetown Island Oyster Co-op was the first co-op dedicated to oyster farming in Maine and had a unique private funding source which helped with start-up and will help in perpetuity also, giving this co-op ensured durability. $160,000 of private money was pledged as a revolving loan to fishermen and community members who wanted to start farms. They borrowed at a low interest rate and their repayments go back to the “well” to provide loans for farmers in the future.
To date there are some 11 oyster farms as part of the co-op. When we decided to offer oysters, it was only natural we sourced from Georgetown Island Co-op. Not only is this co-op farming delectable oysters but also innovating to make Maine’s coastal communities stronger. To order some oysters from the co-op, visit Luke's online shop here.