Skip Bennett has founded and still owns Island Creek Oysters (ICO). With the help of oyster farmer Christian Horne, his local fish market owner and friend Don Murray, and his father Bill Bennett, the Island Creek Oysters has been staying true to its mission since its establishment: Grow. Give. Enjoy.
It was the year 1992 when Skip Bennett had been initiated into oyster-growing in Island Creek, Duxbury, where he spent most of his life. Before that, the quahog razor clams that Bennett was working on became infected. However, instead of letting it pull him down, the ICO founder decided to focus all his attention on oysters. Since making that decision, the following occurrences happened:
• Skip Bennett partnered with Christian Horne in 1997 and founded Island Creek Oysters.
• They were later joined in the year 2000 by Don Murray and Bill Bennett, Skip Bennett’s friend and father, respectively.
• The four of them sold oysters from the back of a truck to some restaurant chefs.
Because of Skip Bennett’s and his associates’ passion for oysters, ICO is now producing more than 100,000 oysters per week, and their customers now come from all coasts.
Oyster Farming Process
The growing, planting, and harvesting process for oysters take 18 months. The work is tedious, but allow us to break down the steps below:
• Seeds of 2 millimeters arrive every May from New England hatcheries in blue cloth packets that can hold 2 pounds of baby oysters.
• The seeds go to the bottom of the handmade upwellings that comprise of eight boxes, a beautiful mesh screen as a bed, and a white pipe that keeps the baby oysters fresh all the time.
• When the last quarter of July comes, and the baby oysters are already ¼-inch long, they are graded or sifted to separate the still-small oysters from the larger ones.
• The ¼-inch oysters are brought to the nursery where they will remain to double in size for 2 to 3 months.
• After that, the oysters are planted in the acreage of underwater ground, where they all continue to grow until after winter.
• Eighteen months after the growing process, the harvesting of oysters through handpicking and dragging takes place when there is low tide and high tide, respectively.
• The harvested oysters are then culled in oyster barges to know which ones are ICO-material or not.
• The oysters that have passed through the oyster barges successfully get washed. The goal is to get rid of all the muds that stuck on them. Workers manually count the shellfish into mesh bags, pack them into ICO trucks, and deliver the bags to your favorite restaurants.
Island Creek Oysters allows visitors who want to experience being an oyster farmer firsthand. It has also ventured to the catering business, and it is suitable for all kinds of events that have guests who want to have raw bar experience. Anyone can shop for shellfish, gears, and packages online through the ICO website.