Help Keep Oyster Business Booming: ‘She Shucks’ Event to Benefit Documentary, Restoration Efforts

Dec 05, 2017
Photo by: Victoria Ford

“She Shucks” is the second annual women’s instructional oyster-shucking event at Old Causeway Steak and Oyster House in Manahawkin, on Wednesday, Dec. 13, from 7 to 10 p.m. Tickets are $25 apiece, available at the door.

Attendance is limited to 50 guests; each shucker (whether male or female) will receive a Santa Claus hat and shucking knife along with their lesson from a local farmer or master shucker. Adding to the holiday spirit, Santa and Mrs. Claus are expected to make an appearance.

Proceeds benefit the making of “The Oyster Farmers,” a documentary film from Oak Leaf Media, directed by Corinne G. Ruff and produced by Angela Andersen. The film, in turn, supports oyster restoration.

Spectators are also welcome. Tax-deductible contributions will be accepted via credit card or check made out to the Jetty Rock Foundation, with “The Oyster Farmers Film” in the memo.

The shellfish is supplied by Parsons Seafood, Maxwell Shellfish and the Barnegat Oyster Collective.

The collective is a regional network of growers and purveyors run by the Forty North Oyster crew: Scott Lennox; his wife, Sarafina Mugavero; his sister Annie Lennox and cousin Chloe Starr; plus Matt and Beth Gregg.

They had started out by farming just their plots at Rose Cove and selling what they grew, according to Andersen, but realized that was not a sustainable business or community model. So they partnered up with Sloop Point and Swan Point Oyster farmers, both in Mantoloking, and now “harvest daily and ship overnight” to two dozen restaurants between the shore, Philadelphia and Princeton, including Long Beach Island’s Pearl Street Market in Beach Haven, Bistro 14 in Beach Haven, The Arlington in Ship Bottom, Black-Eyed Susans in Harvey Cedars, Daymark in Barnegat Light and Old Causeway in Mud City.

The evolution of the collective unfolds in “The Oyster Farmers.”

The documentary, described as “stunning and heartfelt,” tells the story of two very different farmers – one fifth-generation and the other with a new boutique operation – making their living from the bay and, in so doing, resurrecting a local economy and culture lost to disease, overfishing and pollution. The oyster has become a social-centric icon in raw bars and tells a story in its taste, shape, size, grit, and the time it takes from seed to plate, against obstacles.

The development of the local oyster farming industry coincides nicely with the establishment of Long Beach Township’s oyster recycling program, which supplies discarded shells to restoration efforts. Andersen said once, upon arriving at The Arlington in the LBT oyster truck to collect shells, she high-fived Annie Lennox, who was pulling away in the Barnegat Oyster Collective truck, having just made a delivery. The “full circle” moment gave her a chuckle.

“Oysters are starting to rule the world,” she quipped. —V.F.

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