|I don't think this is what the Beatles had in mind when they wrote that song. Here in Maryland, amongst the resurgence of Victory Gardens, and the growing popularity of Farmer's Markets and eating local, seasonal items (which is all too easy to do here with the bounties of the Chesapeake), there is a growing trend of home oyster gardening. More than 1,600 Maryland homes are taking part!
Under home owner's docks or tied to ladders, the baby oysters take 9 months to grow and then are returned to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation where they are seeded on oyster sanctuaries in non commercial fishing areas in the Bay.
Though the Chesapeake oyster is at an estimated 1 percent or less of its historic bounty in the bay, a victim of water pollution and sediment runoff from development, the nonprofit environmental group (Chesapeake Bay Foundation) and its volunteers have put roughly 7 million oysters in sanctuaries since 1997.
''They're dirty little guys, and they don't smell good, but you always feel really good after you plant them,'' said Tiffany Granberg, a CBF employee who loaded up several dozen buckets of homegrown oysters Thursday on a boat docked outside the group's Annapolis headquarters.
Volunteers pay $75 for four oyster cages and a seminar on how to raise them. In the fall, they get several thousand ''spat'' -- baby oysters the size of the nail on one's pinky -- and instructions on how to raise them. The volunteers tie the cages to docks, leaving them a few inches below the water, and haul them out twice a month or so to rinse them.