North Shore Oyster Gardening

Want to help the bay? Become an oyster gardener!

Since 2017, hundreds of local volunteers have been raising oysters in “community oyster gardens.” 

Families, scouts, church groups, students, and yacht, garden, and bath club members are raising oysters to improve our local water quality. An adult oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water per day, enhances the marine habitat, and supports a sustainable shellfish population. And our program doesn’t only benefit our marine environment; our volunteers are having a blast connecting with neighbors as they become active stewards of their local waterways.


How oyster gardening works

The Community Oyster Garden program provides local property owners with the training, equipment, and ongoing support necessary to successfully “garden” juvenile oysters in floats off their property (i.e. bulkhead or dock) or on community floats. 

The Oyster Gardening orientation and training covers the following topics: 

  • A review of the historical, ecological, economic, and cultural value of shellfish

  • Shellfish biology (i.e. habitat, nutrition, predators) 

  • Culturing shellfish(i.e. broodstock, spawning, larval rearing, post set)

  • Health considerations (i.e. water quality, viruses) 

  • Shellfish grow-out (i.e. location, gear, maintenance, fouling organisms, FAQ)

Juvenile oysters (i.e., seed) are acquired from Cornell Cooperative Extension or other NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) approved sources.

The oysters, measuring between 6 mm - 17 mm, are grown-out in “gardens” (cages) located in NYSDEC approved areas. Each shellfish gardener is given a maximum of 1,000 shellfish that will be grown out in two cages.


Join our end-of-season Shellabration

To celebrate the end of the oyster gardening season (and to thank our volunteers for returning shellfish to be seeded in the public waters of Oyster Bay and Cold Spring Harbor), participants are  treated to edible-size shellfish at our big “Shellabration” featuring Don Niddrie's soon-to-be-famous Oyster Roast. 

Our annual Shellabration supports the local shellfish industry and adds to the overall educational value of our program to participants. No shellfish raised in the gardening program are consumed directly or sold commercially.


Oyster gardening project partners

Project partners include: 


Community environmental benefits of Community Oyster Gardening

Community Oyster Gardening is a proven method for nurturing a deeper sense of connection to local waterways among residents, and raises awareness of the often-overlooked Oyster Bay and Cold Spring Harbor. 

By their nature, shellfish can enhance marine habitats and improve water quality. And through their efforts, our volunteers are supporting an ecologically, economically, and culturally important local resource.


Want to learn more, become a gardener or sponsor a cage?

Register: Sign-up to be An Oyster Gardener

Contact: Rob Crafa, Coordinator, Oyster Bay/Cold Spring Harbor Protection Committee

Phone: 631-848-2090


* indicates required

Additional resources

Frequently Asked Questions


The History of the Oyster in Oyster Bay (PDF - five interpretive signs originally reproduced in 2000)


Images of Oyster Gardening


Resources (links to other programs)