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All About the Island Creek Trio

Twenty five years ago, Skip Bennett brought oysters to Duxbury.

This was extraordinary because until this point there were no oysters, wild or otherwise, in Duxbury Bay. Fast-forward to present day, we’re still farming and Duxbury has become the largest oyster producing town in Massachusetts. This boom in production is not due to Island Creek oysters alone, however…

Did you know that we grow more than Island Creek oysters on our farm?

Over the past few years, Skip and his crew have experimented with different farming techniques in tucked-away growing locations around Duxbury Bay. These experimentations have resulted in three oysters that are completely distinct from one another. We’re talkin’ about Aunt Dotty, Row 34, and Island Creek oysters.

Today we’re gonna take a deeper dive into the varieties we grow on our farm to learn about what makes each one unique, yet still a part of that good-weird Island Creek Oyster family.

First, what DO these three oysters have in common:

The Farmer: Skip Bennett

General Location: Duxbury Bay

Beyond that…Let’s dive in!

Island Creek

Growing Location: Duxbury Bay

Grow-Out Method: Bottom planting. We raise all of our oysters from seed that we spawn in our hatchery! Island Creek seed spends the first 1-2 months of their life in an upweller system, before being planted directly on the bay floor where they’re grown “free range” until being harvested at the tender age of 1.5-2 years. 

Cool Stuff: The Island Creek oyster was what put Skip and Duxbury on the map. It is also an essential ingredient in Chef Thomas Keller’s Oysters and Pearls dish at his famed French Laundry and Per Se restaurants. 

Row 34

Growing Location: Duxbury Bay

Grow-Out Method: Raised trays. The trays are stacked three high, with the bottom tray growing the fastest. A few times a week the trays are rotated by dumping one tray into another to rotate the crop. This hand tumbling helps to keep the growth consistent and shells strong and full of meat.

Cool Stuff: We loved these oysters so much that we named TWO restaurants after them, in Boston and Portsmouth, NH.

Aunt Dotty

Growing Location: Skip’s house on Saquish, at the mouth of the Bay

Grow-Out Method: Oyster Grows and raised trays. Aunt Dotty seed is transferred from the upweller system into floating bags called ‘Oyster Grows’ until they reach one inch in size. They will spend 3 years in raised trays on the tidal flats out at Saquish. In winter the seed is removed from the water and stored in burlap bags in the root cellar of Skip’s Saquish cottage. YES, that’s right – oysters can hibernate outside of the water. When spring arrives the oysters will make the short commute back to the water to pick up growing right where they left off.

Cool Stuff: Named after Skip’s Aunt Dotty whose family came to Duxbury on the Mayflower (no joke). Back in the day, Dotty raised her kids in this house without running water or electricity.  

We like to keep it in the family, so you can find all three of these oysters in our Island Creek Trio package! You would think that oysters raised in the same town, let alone the same farm, would essentially look and taste exactly the same… but, as you shuck and eat these varieties side by side, be aware of the subtle nuances each oyster has in terms of taste, appearance and overall experience!