SALISBURY, Md. — More than 40 Perdue Farms associates and family members joined with Oyster Recovery Partnership (ORP) representatives to fill about 710 oyster shell bags in support of Marylanders Grow Oysters program, an initiative run by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to engage water front home owners in helping to restore the Bay’s oyster population.
The bagged shells will provide a home for more than 280,000 new oysters in the Chesapeake Bay.
“The Oyster Recovery Partnership has led the way in efforts to protect and preserve the regional oyster population, and we’re proud to continue our partnership with ORP that highlights our company commitment to environmental stewardship through this volunteer effort,” said Steve Levitsky, vice president of sustainability at Perdue Farms.
The Marylanders Grow Oysters program provides an opportunity for waterfront property owners to grow oysters from their piers to be planted on local oyster sanctuary preserves around the Chesapeake Bay to help rebuild the oyster population.
The Oyster Recovery Partnership delivered two large truckloads of cleaned and aged oyster shells to Perdue’s Corporate Office parking lot where volunteers filled nylon bags with the empty shells. The bags are a key ingredient in the oyster production process. Young larvae will attach themselves to the recycled shells through a setting process using large tanks filled with water at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Horn Point Oyster Hatchery in Cambridge, where the larvae are produced.
Once the larvae attach to the shell, the baby oysters (now called “spat”) will be distributed among the 30 tributaries participating in the 2015-2016 Marylanders Grow Oysters program.
“Perdue Farms is a long-time supporter of efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay. The work of the Perdue associates will have a direct and meaningful impact on oyster restoration and improved water quality,” said Paul Schurick, director of partnerships for the Oyster Recovery Partnership.
As Mark Patterson, project coordinator for Perdue’s oyster recovery volunteer efforts, explains, “This marks our sixth year partnering with ORP for community-based conservation efforts. At Perdue, our stewardship value guides us in our commitment to protect our environment and we take great pride in efforts that enable our associates to give back for the betterment of our community and the environment.”