Vertical Oyster Gardens Improve Local Waterways
Recently, CHNEP staff hosted their first Vertical Oyster Garden (VOG) Workshop at City Hall. Staff set out to create a covid-safe event that would help improve local water quality while partnering with local organizations. Oysters are essential for a healthy waterway. They filter water and also provide a hard substrate for other organisms to attach to, creating new habitats. Oysters clean the water of organic and inorganic materials, clearing murky water and helping to maintain a healthy ecosystem. They also are important to our economy, providing food as well as jobs to our local watermen and women.
The Blue Turtle Restaurant in Punta Gorda jumped at the chance to provide oyster shells from their Buch-A-Shuck event on Mondays, and in just two weeks we had more than enough shells to host not only this event but more to come! The next task was to drill holes in each oyster shell so it could be strung on wire and hung from a dock. The local Boy Scout Troop 110 in Fort Myers has helped us with numerous events and offered their services once again. With their help, almost every single oyster was cleaned and drilled – a gargantuan feet that they undertook in no time at all. These partnerships were inspiring in such strange times, and we couldn’t have done the event without their help.
January’s event was a great success with participants spread out on the lawn behind City Hall. Each person received a length of metal wire, pliers, gloves, and bucket of oysters. Stringing and stacking the oyster shells will allow for the VOGs to be hung from docks in our local waterways and oyster spat will hopefully colonize each strand and create a mini oyster reef, improving water quality. Participants made VOGs for their own docks as well as donated them to be hung from community docks around the CHNEP program area.
We were inspired by Tampa Bay Watch and Manatee County’s Parks & Natural Resources Department who created and hosted previous Vertical Oyster Garden events. We thank them as well in helping our event be such a success.
To learn more about VOG’s, please reach out to CHNEP staff at firstname.lastname@example.org and keep you eyes peeled for future events!