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About Us

Our Story

New Reef Oyster Co. started in late 2012 with only a half dozen cages and a 14′ Aluminum Jon Boat. During that time Auburn University was bringing oyster aquaculture to the Gulf Coast, so we were one of the firsts to sign up for the curriculum. We have since grown our farm, team, and of course, the oysters. ‘Oystering’ is more highly regulated than any other seafood industry, and our commitment to being compliant to all regulations is important to us. Our focus doesn’t just end with the customer. We are focused on providing the highest quality available, with integrity every step of the way. Creating an oyster that is not only delicious, but can be tracked back to our farm. 

A bit about us

Why did you decide to get into oyster farming?

It is good for the economy, good for the estuary and seemed like a good investment to get involved with.

What are the benefits of eating oysters?

It’s a fresh lean protein. I call it a seafood delicacy, it is lean, delicious protein source. Different from fish in the manner of having no waste with an oyster. They have a short shelf life so they are fresh when you eat them.

What are the benefits of having oyster beds?

It is a “put and take” industry. We don’t take anything out that we didn’t put in. Since you don’t feed oysters you do not add any toxins or pollutants. Oysters are part of the native environment. They feed on plankton and bacteria, cleaning the water making the estuary cleaner and safer for not only the oysters but the surrounding life of fish, crabs, birds and even us. They create structure and an habitat. We are seeing dolphins, birds, rock crabs, blue crabs, speckled trout and we are even seeing sports fishermen starting to come fish around our farm.

How do you grow/farm your oysters?

We purchase seed oysters from a nursery and then we grow those oysters in off-bottom cages. They are in floating cages that are attached to long lines. The benefit of this method is to protect the oysters from predators and produces a cleaner oyster for harvest. Our farm is located in Portersville Bay, which is ideal for oyster aquaculture. Portersville Bay was at one time a highly productive oyster habitat, and our hope is to help revive that habitat. When we discard dead oyster’s the shells are tossed back to water to apply a base of shells for wild oysters to use. We also farm some diploid oysters which procreate during the summer and those larvae will set where ever they can find a suitable habitat. This is what makes it so important to toss those shells back into the water. These larvae will eventually grow into wild oysters if they successfully establish themselves. It is rewarding to see a secondary set on our oysters because that is showing us of evidence that wild oysters are growing.

What kind of oyster do you produce?

We produce gourmet half-shell oysters. Suitable for white table restaurants, sampler platters at oyster bars, they are really ideal for the half-shell market. We produce the half shell because it has a uniformity of size because it has a nice shape and cup. Our oysters will have a characteristically unique flavor because of the waters they come from. Other ways to serve oysters, if it does not meet there requirements for a half shell, will be to use those oysters as a shuck or cooking oyster.

Are there benefits to our community for having a local oyster farm?

Beyond what we already said, there are nurseries, hatcheries, farmers, distributors, restaurants… the point is there is an entire market of workers who make a living from growing farms. The growing estuary will be very apparent to Marine Biologist, Scientist and even sports and commercial fishermen. Everything that is spawning in the estuary will be better off.

What are your future goals for the farm?

We have 20 acres of riparian, my goal is to expand the farm to make use of all that water. I like to see us use all the farmable water, and the water that is not farmable I hope to see established as living shoreline.  We also want to create career opportunities and not just for the farmers. There are definitely opportunities for marine biologists, and what I call oystermen (anyone who works with oyster farming). One goal is to continue to have a collaborative relationship with the Auburn program. Promote the success of new farms.