Meet the Martino brothers, Dan and Greg, who have ventured into the farming industry on Martha’s Vineyard — oyster farming that is.
No small feat, it took these two a long time to make this dream a reality, and they still have to wait until Fall of 2016 to harvest their oysters.
Why get into oyster farming? It is hard work and work that is done in all sorts of weather all year. Well, for Dan and Greg, it’s about being part of the community, giving back and education. Martha’s Vineyard has a relatively large farming community, both big and small.
The Island supports growing local and sharing not only the bounty but also the knowledge with people of all ages. Think The Farm Institute and Island Grown Initiative, and “Farm to Table” is more than a just a phrase here. It is a reality.
Dan is in video production. We actually worked together for years on Plum TV, and Greg is a bookkeeper. Having the oyster farm provides a balance of the Ying and Yang. Computer screens and cameras out of necessity, and the open water and boats out of love.
Cottage City Oysters
The name was easy for the brothers. It is a nod to Oak Bluffs when it was a thriving fishing community back in the days when it was called Cottage City. It was much more than a vacation destination.
Cottage City Oysters is the first oyster farm in its Oak Bluffs location. You’ll find the farm a short distance off the shoreline at Eastville Beach. There are a couple buoys off in the distance. Chances are you might not even notice them.
However, these little bivalve mollusks are working hard. They are filtering gallons and gallons of water, eating the algae, removing nitrogen from the water. Thus improving the water quality surrounding them.
The farm also provides a habitat for fish and other sea critters to hide from predators and foul weather.
The brothers are starting small. In early May, they put 50,000 oysters in the water. That’s small potatoes compared to other Martha’s Vineyard oyster farms. This is all new to them and it’s also part-time.
Every two weeks, sometimes more often, the brothers are out at the farm, measuring and checking on the oysters. Seeing the oysters, touching them, there’s a feeling of pride and ownership, and a commitment, and it feels darn good.
These little oysters are almost like Dan and Greg’s children. They have to take care of them, and don’t quite know how they’ll turn out. They don’t know how the oysters will taste, what they will look like — the brothers just have to do their best while growing them over the year.
A Different Kind of Oyster
Many oyster farms get their baby oysters (seeds) from Maine. However, Dan and Greg, after much researching, chose to get their seed from Fisher Island Oyster Farm.
This particular seed provider has been around forever and practices environmentally friendly growing methods. Their mantra is “Farm without harm.” This is inline with Dan and Greg’s mission.
With Cottage City Oysters using a different supplier, it will be interesting to see how the oysters differ from other Island ones.
Oysters & Community
Being a part of the farming community means sharing and educating. Cottage City Oysters is partnering with Island Grown Initiative and Island Grown Schools to bring aquaculture into the schools. This is the first time Island children of all ages will have the chance to experience these farming techniques.
Being a big fan of oysters from Martha’s Vineyard and living in Oak Bluffs, I am excited for this project. I look forward to trying a Cottage City Oyster. I imagine they will be beautiful and very tasty. Stay tuned!
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