April 22, 2014
Oysters have grown in the Great Bay and Little Bay of NH’s seacoast for generations, yet it’s only been recently that commercial oyster farms have sprung up there. The fledgling industry boasts eight oyster farms that are in high demand due to the farm-to-table trend and growing interest in farmer's markets.
The challenge is that demand outstrips the capacity of the local farms, which compete for space in the busy estuary with recreational boating and lobstering.
Among these young businesses is Fat Dog Shellfish Company, launched in 2011 by Jay Baker and Bob and Alex Boeri, who each have backgrounds in marine biology.
“Prices right now are very good and demand is spectacular. You plan on getting 50 cents wholesale, but you can do better if you have a savvy wholesaler,” Baker says. Selling directly to consumers, the price bumps up by another 15 to 20 cents, he says. “We couldn’t keep them in stock [last year],” Baker says of the company’s first season harvesting oysters. It was able to harvest “tens of thousands” of oysters, and Baker says the target is to grow the farm to harvest “hundreds of thousands.”