In June, Sam and I visited Marin Sun Farms in Point Reyes. When we walked through the fields to see the cattle, we were told that an estuary and piece of land adjacent to Marin Sun Farms was Drakes Bay Oyster Farm. Seeing the oyster farm spawned talk amongst our group: the oyster farm was in danger of closure because its lease on the land and water would soon be up and certain activists wanted to return the land to the wild and not renew the contract. The Drakes Bay Oyster Farm is fighting to stay open because not only are they providing food and jobs for local people, but they are responsible stewards of the land.
So, with the looming possibility of Drakes Bay Oyster Farm’s closure, Sam and I knew we wanted to visit the oyster farm soon. In mid-August, Sam, my parents, my sister and I piled into the car and drove the hour and a half to the Drakes Bay Oyster Farm. We didn’t know what to expect. Would it be commercialized? Would there be a lot of visitors? How close could we get to the oysters? And how in the world do you farm oysters?
As we drove down the windy gravel road to the estuary, we realized we were in for a good old-fashioned oyster farm experience. Though Drakes Bay Oyster Company produces nearly 40% of California’s shellfish, it is anything but commercialized. Aside from a few kayakers, we were the only visitors. A small white building housed the counter where we could purchase fresh clams and oysters of all sizes. Closer to the waterfront, about 8 men worked on prying apart oyster shells with electric screwdriver-like machines. To the left, mounds of oyster shells rose at least 10 feet high.
After observing the oyster farm workers from a distance (this was a true work site, after all—no glass window separated us from the workers), we headed inside the shop to try some oysters. The oysters tasted fresher than any we’d ever had before, though they were a little too fresh from the sea (i.e. salty) for some of us. We also bought a dozen oysters to take home to barbeque. This was the first time I’d had barbequed oysters and they were wonderful—warm and juicy. The manila clams had been harvested that very morning, so we couldn’t resist buying a couple pounds to make Sam’s favorite linguine with clams for dinner.
Before we went home, however, we stopped at a few more food-related destinations. Come back tomorrow to hear about the rest of our food finds.