Maine is home to a thriving seafood economy, providing a variety of fish and sea life to markets across the country. Maine is also home to dozens of oyster farmers who have been working their trade for years.
The best part about these farms? They offer tours open to the public! You can secure your spot to experience an oyster farm firsthand with a quick phone call or online booking.
If you have the opportunity to visit a farm, consider looking into the Maine Oyster Trail, which facilitates visits and even offers rewards for visits and oyster tastings.
What is an Oyster Farm?
Oyster farming is an ancient practice that dates back to the ancient Romans. Oyster farming is classified as an aquaculture practice where oysters are raised and then harvested. Oysters are primarily harvested for their pearls and also as a food source.
Some large oyster farms produce millions of premium oysters each year. Some farms cater to grocery stores and seafood markets, while others provide oysters to high-end restaurants.
The process of oyster farming is quite intense, and it can take as long as 24 months to get an oyster from farm to table. Oyster farming enables farmers to operate efficiently and breed disease-resistant, fast-growing oysters.
What to Expect on an Oyster Farm Tour
While every oyster farm tour is different, most start with an introduction to the facility and the local farmers. You’ll learn about how the facility works, the business model, and the individual farmers and employees at the facility.
You’ll also see the facility up close and may even have a chance to get in the water. Most tours also include some instruction on how to expertly shuck an oyster. Finally, you’ll get the opportunity to taste the oysters. Some experiences offer raw tastings, while others offer pairings with other foods.
You will have the opportunity to ask questions along the way and get a first-hand idea of what it takes to run an oyster farm. The knowledge and passion of oyster farmers in Maine is something that is rare and unique to the state.
Where to Find an Oyster Farm Tour
An oyster farm is easy to find if you are in the York Harbor, Maine area. There are at least a dozen scattered along the Maine beaches and the MidCoast region. You can even visit more than one in a day. Here is just a sampling of some of the great farms in the area.
Southern Maine Sea Farms
This oyster farm is as local as they come. They grow fresh, sustainable oysters, scallops, mussels, and kelp. The farm has locations in four areas: Kittery, York, Ogunquit, and Wells, Maine. During a tour, you’ll get a first-hand look at their operation and see what a local Maine oyster farm looks like.
Blackstone Point Oyster Co.
Blackstone is located in the Damariscotta River region and exclusively farms Blackstone Point oysters. The farmer — Brendan Parsons — operates the farm with a wholesale shellfish distribution business. The farm uses the floating cage system where oysters are grown in mesh bags within a cage suspended at the surface by pontoons.
Community Shellfish is another great option for a local farm tour. They farm oysters but also have a lobster and clam business. Like most oyster farms, Community Shellfish has a very specific process for placing and harvesting oysters. They sell to many restaurants and pride themselves on their quality as well as their diversity of flavor.
Eider Coast Oyster Farm
Eider Coast is a family-owned farm located near Foster’s Point on the New Meadows River. The farm produces delicious oysters but also clams, quahogs, and lobster.
Their facility operates almost entirely on solar energy for sorting and washing. The farm is located in a more remote area of the Casco Bay region so you can enjoy some quiet time during your tour.
Book Your Oyster Farm Tour Today!
If you are new to oyster farming, a farm tour will truly be an experience to remember. While running a farm is a year-round job, the best time to visit is during the spring or summer, when you’ll be able to spend more time outside, access more of the farm, and actually see the harvesting process.
Come with an empty stomach so you can taste all that Maine oyster farms offer! You can plan your experience on maineoystertrail.com.
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