In this project, the Friends of the Rappahannock supplies interested homeowners with spat, oyster floats, and water-quality testing equipment. Throughout the year, participating volunteers will care for the oysters as they grow and will monitor the water quality and record data. It’s a two-fold program with a goal of establishing more areas of water-quality monitoring (WQM) throughout the Rappahannock and its tributaries and to identify areas on the Rappahannock that oysters thrive in.
The spat is purchased through Tidewater Oyster Gardeners Association (TOGA) and will be of the native Diploid variety, which, unlike their Triploid relatives, can reproduce. Oysters grow roughly an inch a year, depending on the salinity of the area. Oysters ideally need salinity amounts reaching into the teens, but with the heavy spring and summer rains the Rappahannock River is experiencing low salt levels. Luckily, oysters are tougher than many people believe. Raising oyster beds requires less attention than keeping a house plant alive. So anyone with a little extra time and a waterway access point (high in salinity) could be an oyster farmer.
The “HOMI” program is one of the many homeowner activism programs offered through the Friends of the Rappahannock. While restoring the oyster population to the Rappahannock River will improve the health of our river, it is not a cure-all solution to the problems facing the river. The solution to helping our river improve in health is found in the many individuals (like you) who make active choices for a healthy river.
Written by Marti Osteyee-Hoffman, FOR Tidal Outreach and Membership Coordinator