It was a packed night of the major oyster growers, purveyors, restaurants, and gastronomes from Annapolis to Baltimore and along the shore, when the doors of the sprawling pavilion at the iconic B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore opened to a flood of more than 500 attendees circulating to enjoy live music, and try wines, restaurant delicacies, beers, cocktails and of course the main event: oysters from 14 invited growers.
Sponsored by the Oyster Recovery Partnership, the event was a party with a purpose. Impressively, the event had massive attendance, even in competition that night with the Orioles vying for an AL East title and a major live nearby concert – a testament to the unwavering passion of oyster aficionados.
Amid the culinary festivities, one of the evening’s highlights was the premiere of Saint Michaels Oyster Girl Oysters, the newest oyster farm in Maryland. With the help of family and good friends, co-owners Lawrence Rudner and Pamela Getson proudly presented their delicious oysters and innovative farming techniques to resounding acclaim.
With a focus on flavor and sustainability, Oyster Girl Oysters presented their unique 4.5 to 6-inch oysters as well as petites, noted by attending oyster elites for their buttery taste. Raised on nutrient-rich surface waters, these oysters were carefully tended, flipped frequently to minimize biofouling, and bred as sterile triploids, channeling their energy into growth. Many guests returned for seconds and thirds, savoring the OG oysters and engaging in conversations with the co-owners and their team. More than 600 OG oysters were consumed – a busy night for the shuckers.
Attendees were also fascinated by a video monitor loop provided by OG with an additional still photo display on a tall vertical retractable banner showing their farm in operation. Special interest began nearly immediately with other farmers and wholesale distributors attracted to watch the newest mechanical flipping and harvesting tools invented by Rudner.
Oyster Girl Oysters also introduced a novel, safe, and highly effective shucking board, crafted by Willem Rosenberg, a professor and oyster lover from the Ohio University and a close neighbor of Rudner and Getson.
Rudner and Getson began growing a few oysters off their dock about 10 years ago in their first permanent shore home on a Miles River tributary. But soon they expanded a bit more and grew more for their own private enjoyment and that of friends. Rudner also began offering lectures at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum on oyster gardening. When the couple retired from busy unrelated careers as statisticians in academia, government and business, Rudner decided to dive further into aquaculture. Their current home on the shore fronting Harris Creek allowed for the expansion to begin, slowly at first, but then this past year reaching fruition of permitted leases, a new boat and floating cages and materials needed for raising triploid, all-year-tasty oysters, using only surface techniques.
They first carefully collected data for analysis, and researched various methods, developing special algorithms for growth models that were published, allowing East Coast oyster growers to finally have ways to determine expected volume over time and hence, to better plan staffing needs for their own harvests. From there, inventiveness took over to allow Oyster Girl to be managed with extremely low physical effort via use of Rudner’s inventions for flipping cages and conducting the harvest. In the near future, they aim to further refine their mechanical inventions, develop formal blueprints, and offer them for free to fellow growers.
For now, instead of sailing every moment they had free in past years, they are focused on managing their new hobby and perfecting a few recipes over the winter. For information about Oyster Girl Oysters, visit https://OysterGirl.us. For information about the Oyster Recovery Partnership and their annual World is Your Oyster festival, visit https://oysterrecovery.org.