Shellfish Gardening

Morgan Rohrbach and Dan Huxley install oyster bags.

Beginning in 2006 nine adventurous shoreline dwellers from Bainbridge Island teamed up with Puget Sound Restoration Fund to begin gardening on their tidelands.  The beaches varied greatly in substrate type from the calm, muddy inlets of Port Madison Bay to the exposed and gravelly beaches near Lynwood Center.  Today over 120 families have planted shellfish gardens around the island and continue to send us reports of their “absolutely fabulous clams” and “fantastic oysters.”

Shellfish Gardening Program Goals

  • Help residents make the connection between environmental stewardship and their dinner plate
  • Raise awareness about water quality issues in Puget Sound
  • Clean water by increasing populations of filter-feeding shellfish
  • Provide habitat for the marine species that benefit from oyster bed protection
  • Get people excited about growing, eating and sharing their bounty!

How does the shellfish gardening program work?

In early summer, PSRF hosts a “seed” sale at our office on Bainbridge Island at which we sell a variety of baby clams, oysters, and mussels to shoreline residents who then grow them on their own beaches.   If you are interested in becoming a shellfish gardener, let us know and we can set you up with everything you’ll need (seed, grow bags, rope, and stakes).  Shellfish gardening requires little maintenance and is a great way to produce your own food while helping to cleanse the waters of Puget Sound.

Please remember: Even though you may be growing your own shellfish, you will still need to always check with the Department of Health for harvest closures.

Email Wendy Welch or call 206.780.6947 to sign up or for more information

What should I plant?

To prevent the spread of invasive species, diseases, and parasites, shellfish gardeners should only plant shellfish species that are:

  • Approved for introduction into the wild by Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife;
  • Produced by approved seed suppliers in Puget Sound; and
  • Certified as disease-free.

The seed that Puget Sound Restoration Fund sells at its annual Seed Sale meets all of the criteria listed above.
DO NOT buy shellfish off the internet for your shellfish gardens.
DO NOT go to the grocery store and buy shellfish and then add it to your garden.  Many of the shellfish species sold at grocery stores are produced in other countries and regions.  These species are often prohibited and may be invasive in Puget Sound.

Additional Resources