The Coastal Resources Center along with partners Sea Grant and CRMC hosted two free public tours of local aquaculture farms. The first tour was July 31st at Sunset Beach Aquaculture Farm in Jamestown. The second tour on August 29th, was held at Roger Williams University Aquaculture Hatchery, Nursery and Shallow Water Farm. Both tours were free to the public as part of the Rhode Island Shellfish Initiative, which is an ongoing CRC project. Shellfish aquaculture is a key component to Rhode Island’s Blue Economy with over eighty farms statewide. Allowing consumers the opportunity to see where their food is coming from and meet the people who grow that food aims to further connect stakeholders with their local environment.
First, on Wednesday July 31st, a group of around forty local residents, students and stakeholders got a taste of what life is like on Sunset Beach Aquaculture Farm in Jamestown. The tour kicked off with half the group wading out to a boat anchored in the middle of the farm where farmers were waiting to educate the group about just what it takes to grow the oysters. The other half of the tour stayed on land tasting fresh oysters that had been grown in the water in front of them. Summer aquaculture tours are an important educational resources because of the large role that aquaculture plays within Rhode Island’s Blue Economy. These tours allow the public to interact with their local environment in a new way and changes the way they have typically viewed their coast or their idea of a farm. A local North Kingstown resident has this to say about the tour, “As a born and bred Rhode Islander, I loved seeing where my seafood comes from and the dedicated people who work hard to grow them. It was a super interesting experience.”
The second tour took place on Thursday, August 29th at Roger Williams University Aquaculture Hatchery, Nursery and Shallow Water Farm. This tour was more science heavy, as farmers explained the biology behind the growing methodology. The group was able to see how shellfish is spawned and first grown in the lab, and later moved to the water. The group was also shown large algae vats, which are grown on site, to feed the shellfish. CRC Coastal Research Associate and Aquaculture Specialist, Azure Cygler noted, “We are lucky to have a place like Roger Williams University who is a pioneer in aquaculture and hatchery research. This tour helped people to understand the biology of shellfish, which helps them better understand the industry.”