Words by Aaron Wood
A half dozen wader-clad farmers slog alongside their crop, making haste to beat a falling tide. The farmers work from one bottom cage to the next, checking on the oysters for maturity and overall health. Table-ready specimens are brought to the dock, cleaned, bagged, iced, and shipped to nearby consumers and elite restaurants nationwide. “Ten to fifteen hands touch every single oyster through their lifecycle,” oyster farmer Dan Foster says, a testament to their commitment considering the scope of the operation.
Each season, Island Creek Oysters of Duxbury, Massachusetts, spawn millions of oyster seeds. From microscopic larvae to their final stop atop shaved ice, workers tend to the oysters with the same care and affection as a loving parent determined to see their child shoot for the stars.
For the Duxbury community, Island Creek oysters are far more than a culinary delight served chilled with a splash of mignonette. The bivalves purify the saltwater while offering a safe haven for bait species, creating a flourishing estuary for the broader fishery. On land, they are a keystone component of the local economy and a unifying symbol of pride: Sweet, meaty, and awash in a deep cup of refreshing brine, every emptied shell represents the belief that there are no shortcuts for heart and hard work.