In October we had two great oyster shell recycling events that included local beer and fresh seafood, and there’s more to come in November.
Proceeds from the events will benefit our restoration work — and the recycled oyster shells will help a lot, too. These will be used to make oyster bags for living shoreline and oyster reef work. Oyster reefs attract spat — juvenile oysters — which attach and grow on the reef. Oysters also provide habitat for fish and filter water.
Oyster Shell Bagging and Old Bay Oyster Stout Release Party
Our southeast office helped put on an Oyster Shell Bagging and Old Bay Oyster Stout Release Party on Oct. 18 in Wilmington at the local pub Bill’s Front Porch Pub & Brewery.
Jessica Gray, coastal outreach associate, organized the event with the Musser family, who own Capt’n Bill’s Backyard Grill & Volleyball and Bill’s Front Porch Pub & Brewery. The Musser family also has a catering business, which the federation used for the Titan Free Jamboree in the spring. When John Musser learned more about the federation’s work, he offered up the two piles of recycled shells he had behind the restaurant.
Gray spoke with Musser’s daughter, Brookes, about organizing a volunteer event, and she offered the space behind the restaurant — and then suggested brewing an oyster stout and even scheduled the popular Wilmington-based band, L Shape Lot, for the volunteer event. Volunteers and staff gathered that Tuesday to bag oyster shells and drink beer, and $1 from every oyster stout sold benefited the federation.
Ted Wilgis, coastal education coordinator at the federation, estimated volunteers filled 400 to 500 oyster bags.
Gray said people at the restaurant — and not just the volunteers — were interested in the oyster restoration work.
“It’s not hard to get people to lend some manpower when there is beer involved,” Gray said. “Volunteers who were unaware of the beer and live music were especially excited.”
The Musser family also sent out complimentary appetizers for the volunteers.
“This event was a win for supporting the local economy, a win for supporting oyster restoration and a win in that it was a fun evening for all in attendance,” she said.
OystoberFest in Southern Shores
In the northeast region, coastal education coordinator Sara Hallas and 15 volunteers helped out on Saturday, Oct. 29, at OystoberFest in Southern Shores. The event, which was part of Outer Banks Restaurant Week, featured beer from North Carolina breweries and many oyster dishes.
Several varieties of oysters were featured, and some came from oyster farmers based out of North Carolina and Virginia. The growers were on hand to answer questions about different oyster varieties and aquaculture.
This was the first ever OystoberFest, and many attendees were interested in learning about oyster restoration work. Hallas and volunteers set up a booth with educational displays on oysters.
Some attendees were initially unaware about the importance of recycling shells, but federation staff and volunteers were able to educate people on why oyster shells are an important resource.
“It was neat to see this combination of efforts — oyster aquaculture, unique cuisine, craft beer and water quality protection — mesh into one afternoon,” Hallas said.
Hallas said they will have about 50 bags of oyster shells from the event that will be used for the reef. The group of volunteers were an immense help with education efforts and with bagging oyster shells.
“It’s also powerful that the positive impact will continue beyond the event, with the generous donation we received from the event profits, the 50 bags of shells that will become a reef and the great new contacts we made — which all stems from Outer Banks Restaurant Week and their efforts to support the federation’s oyster restoration work,” she said.
Outer Banks Restaurant Week lasts until Nov. 5. Visit http://www.outerbanksrestaurantweek.com/ for details.