September 6 Update – Supporters! Look for Information from Ahyayha and the Bavusos on Kudo Distribution
$2464 Awarded (September, 2013)
My husband and I have always wanted to try to leave things at least a little better than we found them. When we moved to our home on the Poquoson River, we tried to think about how we could make the water we live on better. We began to understand that the Bay as we have known it, is dying. We wanted to do our part in trying to clean it up – the solution we came up with, to use oysters. An oyster absorbs excess nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) from the water into its shell and tissue. It used to be that all the oysters in the Bay filtered the water weekly. Now, due to over harvesting, they are gone. We need you to help us bring them back.
Our plan was simple – grow native Virginia oysters in cages, naturally absorb the nutrients, and through the farm to table movement, sell to local restaurants. Grow food and save the Bay. We filled out state and local applications and forms and we were told by York County that we could conduct our operation without any rezoning or special use permits. With our own time and money we began reading up on oyster farming and we bought materials and equipment. In our third year of operation, the County told us that we would need to obtain a special permit after all and would have to get approval from the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors. They turned us down. Spending thousands of dollars we appealed, and we won in Circuit Court. The judge agreed that we were doing what we were entitled to do and what the County had originally given us permission to do. However, the County seems unable to accept the ruling and is now appealing our case to the Virginia Supreme Court.
Through all this, we have continued to farm. We have local restaurants that say our oysters are the best in the area. When starting our business, we set aside money for a 5 year plan to grow oysters. The upfront cost is very high and the oysters don’t mature to market size for 18 months after initial planting. So, just about the time that our oyster operation would finally be able to start paying back some of our investment, the County’s lawsuit has depleted any additional reserves (and more) we had for our oyster business. We have come so far, but now have no money to buy materials to make more cages. We need your help to add more oyster cages to our farm.
The largest cost associated with oyster farming (other than labor) is the cost of the enclosures in which the oysters are grown that protect them from predation. Each of the 2′x3′ wire mesh cages we use yields a harvest of about 500 oysters every 12 to 18 month harvest cycle.
Based on work by researchers Roger Mann and Roger Newell, we estimate that each oyster absorbs about ¾ of a gram of excess nitrogen and about 1/5 of a gram of excess phosphorus (two of the primary pollutants affecting the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers and streams). Assuming that a cage lasts for ten harvest cycles, we estimate that each cage can reduce 8 lbs of nitrogen and 1 3/4 lbs. of phosphorus from the river. If we could raise $7950 this would allow us to significantly increase production capacity of our family operation.
We’ve created contribution levels of $20, $50, $100, and $200 with cool rewards like fresh oysters shipped directly to you. $100 will fund the construction of one complete cage (lasting 10 years), $200 funds two. We figure the retail value of the rewards for each contribution level exceeds the contribution level, and especially so if you include the value of the nitrogen and phosphorus certificates. We also need you folks to tell your friends about our project even if you can’t contribute financially. There are no government programs to help us with this and we’re not a non-profit organization so grants won’t help either. Banks won’t help us right now with the risk of this operation being what it is.
What we’re willing to do is offer Seaford Oyster Company hats, t-shirts, other cool stuff, and up to 50 fresh native Virginia oysters as rewards or what Ahyayha calls “Kudos” to Supporters (see right hand side of this project page). We also will offer One Oyster at a Time project Nitrogen and Phosphorus Reduction Certificates and a “Mine’s Smaller” Footprint Reduction car magnet as long as they last. The Certificate is a way that an individual or company can offset their pollution footprint.
Also, as a special thanks for contributions received before midnight, July 4th, Supporters will receive an Ahyayha Bumper Sticker and freshly harvested oysters (you won’t believe the clean, refreshing, salty taste) shipped within 5 days of any summer date requested (from June 4-August 31) to anywhere in the U.S.. (Contributions received after July 4th will receive oysters but orders will not be processed until after project funding period closes in September)
NEW! THE JULY 4TH DEADLINE HAS BEEN EXTENDED TO MIDNIGHT TUESDAY, JULY 9TH!
What’s Your Footprint?
Humans create many footprints. Our nitrogen and phosphorus footprints come from commuting, food consumption, etc.
E-Z Nitrogen Pollution Calculator – Unlike nitrogen in the air, other forms such as nitrous oxides and nitrate are acidifying our oceans – and literally dissolving the shellfish and coral worldwide. To estimate yur individual nitrogen footprint, use the commuter information below or go to the University of Virginia’s N-print calculator.
- If you drive 200 miles per week – estimate 10 lbs. nitrogen pollution per year
- If you drive 400 miles per week – estimate 17 lbs. nitrogen pollution per year
- If you drive 600 miles per week – estimate 24 lbs. nitrogen pollution per year
So, a commuter that drives around 200 miles per week could buy one cage and go nitrogen neutral for a year and get cool stuff!
E-Z Phosphorus Pollution Calculator – According to work recently completed by Canadians Genevieve Metson, Elena Bennett, and James Elser, the average U.S. phosphorus footprint is 15.18 lbs. per year. So, you can see it’s more expensive to go phosphorus neutral – but still, a couple of cages neutralizes about 20% of a person’s impact.
If You’re Ready to Help
Step 1. Select Pledge Level ($20, $50, $100, or $200)
Step 2. Click on the Contribute Button
Step 3. Receive Kudos from Ahyayha
Anthony and I love our life and work here on the river. Our family is SO grateful to our Supporters and Ahyayha for their interest in our project. THANK YOU!