The oyster seed (which is sourced through a certified hatchery) that is destined to become Sweet Neck Farm oysters is started within the protected confines of an upweller located in Martha‘s Vineyard’s Katama Bay.
The upweller provides the seed with a more or less constant flow of plankton rich waters that the oysters feed upon. The warm waters of Martha’s Vineyard facilitate a relatively quick grow-out for a North Atlantic oyster, and during the early stages of the oyster’s life in the upweller, the oysters will actually double their size on a weekly basis. Once the little oysters attain a manageable size (an inch or so), they are transferred from the nursery (upweller) to a mid-water suspension culture consisting of a series of grow-out cages. These cages are buoyed by a raft which also supports a culling table, sorting machine, tumbler, and a wind turbine (The turbine supplies the power for the sorter and tumbler…How cool is that?).
Every 10 weeks the cages are weighed, and the oysters go for a little spin in the tumbler that is partially immersed in the water before being set into motion. The chafing action created by this tumbling serves as an extremely effective anti-bio-fouling mechanism while simultaneously chipping away new, irregular growth from the shells (promoting greater cup definition). When the oysters reach market size, they are removed from the cages one last time, given the once over with a pressure washer (in an effort to blast any silt from the oyster’s crevices), and are immediately hand packed (cup side-down) in 100-count boxes and sent off-island.
Sweet Neck Farm oysters are roughly three-and-a-half to four inches in length, are deeply cupped, and are high-yielding. Salinity of the Sweet Necks is high (MV is more or less out in the open ocean), and meats are pleasantly firm with a mild simple sugar finish. Pre-orders are very much encouraged.