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Growing Up Oyster | High Tide Oyster Farm

Chris Warner and son Garrett looks at small glass eels swimming in their upweller.

When we arrived to meet Chris Warner and his son Garrett at the Starbucks in Bath, ME, we took a quick look around and immediately saw two pairs of muddy knee high rubber boots sitting in the corner. A sure fire sign of an oyster farmer. “I’m sure you could tell which cah in the pahking lot was mine.” He was right. The very large pick-up with the beginnings of some project in the bed of his truck.

We hopped in our cars and drove 15 minutes out into the peninsulas, passed a ‘No Trespassing’ sign, and drove another several minutes through an expansive waterfront stretch of private land until we reached their dock. That piece of land? Home to Chris Warner’s extended family – passed down for 16 generations.

High Tide Oyster Farm barge on New Meadows River.

We walked down a long dock until we reached their barge. Here, they share space and equipment with Winter Point Oysters. (Winter Point is an oyster farm run by Chris’ brother-in-law John, and John’s father, Jim.) The greenhouse style shelter on the barge makes windy days out on the water much more bearable. It’s an ideal spot for culling, cleaning, and bagging oysters on any given day.

A portrait of Chris Warner and son Garrett of High Tide Oyster Farm.
High Tide Oyster Farm where Ocean Kiss Oysters are grown.

Out on his boat, Chris showed us where his leases are out on New Meadows River. Along the way, we pass the familiar yellow and blue hues of Winnegance Oysters’ Muffin II workboat. Another reminder of just how close-knit the community of Maine oyster farmers are.

While out on the water Chris tells us all about his history as a fisherman. He started out dragging when he was only 15, worked on a big steel shrimping vessel, and even spent time harvesting wild sea urchins. But somewhere along the way he began to understand the negative impact some of their fishing practices were having on each species. Specifically with sea urchin, he realized their overfishing was what caused the depletion of their population, and he didn’t want to contribute to their demise. So oyster farming became the right alternative both in lifestyle and in business. It incorporated all the things he loved, but at the end of the day he was only taking out what he put in. Therefore, having close to zero impact on the natural ecosystem of Maine waters.

Plus, Chris LOVES oysters. “I eat 30 oysters a day.”

A cement mixer repurposed as an oyster tumbler.

When we asked Chris what his favorite part of oyster farming was, his answer didn’t surprise us. He said it was the ability to easily bring family into it the process; that anyone can get involved. His son Garrett was along for the ride on this particular day, and though he was quiet at first, it wasn’t long until he started chiming in with the same confidence of oyster farming his dad held.

A handful of Ocean Kiss oyster seed pulled from the upwellers.

When the team at Island Creek first tasted Ocean Kiss Oysters, we were hooked. Yes, Chris’ enthusiasm drew us in, but the product was really impressive. Each oyster is so clean and consistent in size with perfect meat that really fills out the shell. The flavor is the most pleasant, balanced brininess that will keep you shucking one after another.

A boat pulling away from the High Tide Oyster Farm barge in the distance.