Northern Neck oyster gardeners working to help restore wild reefs

Chesapeake Academy students tend to their oyster garden. Photo by Robin Blake

by Wyatt Young

Robin Blake began oyster gardening for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation five years ago in Irvington. Since then, the Chesapeake Academy science teacher has expanded her garden into two areas of Carter Creek, a tributary of the Rappahannock River. The oysters she raises from baby to adult are planted on a Virginia sanctuary reef to restore the wild population.

Nearby in Lancaster, Stephen Caudle and his daughter Eloise, now 14, have also been oyster gardening for five years. They got into it to give back to the Rappahannock, where they love boating, swimming and exploring.

“It is important to do our part,” Caudle said. “We enjoy the river so much.”

Oysters in Virginia have been decimated by years of disease and pollution but are slowly staging a comeback thanks in part to restoration efforts. Oyster gardening gives volunteers an opportunity…


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