The Oyster Recovery Partnership, a non-profit shellfish restoration group, was awarded two grants totaling $25,000 by Perdue Farms through the Arthur W. Perdue Foundation, the company's charitable giving arm, to expand efforts to raise oysters for the Chesapeake Bay and recycle oyster shells. Perdue Farms raises and sells chickens and turkeys.
The grants will allow the Oyster Recovery Partnership to expand its Shell Recycling Alliance and Marylanders Grow Oysters Program. The grants also strengthen a partnership between the Oyster Recovery Partnership and Perdue Farms, which has been a long-term supporter of Bay oyster restoration efforts. The grants were announced during a volunteer shell-bagging event at the Perdue Farms' Corporate office in Salisbury.
"Perdue Farms is a great friend of oysters and the Chesapeake Bay," said Stephan Abel, executive director of the Oyster Recovery Partnership. "They have been active with the Marylanders Grow Oysters Program since 2009 and have helped us expand the important community-based program throughout the Eastern Shore of Maryland. These grants mean more homeowners will be able to participate in raising oysters for the bay and more shells will be recycled to continue our restoration efforts. These grants will have a direct impact on the Bay oyster population and the entire Bay ecosystem."
A $15,000 grant for Marylanders Grow Oysters will allow the Oyster Recovery Partnership to expand the statewide program along the Eastern Shore, the Nanticoke River watershed and in Ocean City. This grant will be leveraged with state funding to allow the group to deliver thousands of oyster cages filled with hatchery-produced oysters to communities throughout Maryland. Homeowners raise the oysters off their piers for about a year, until they are large enough for the Oyster Recovery Partnership to plant them on sanctuary oyster reefs.
A $10,000 Shell Recycling Alliance grant will allow the Oyster Recovery Partnership to support and expand the shell-recycling program in the Delmarva region. Since the Shell Recycling Alliance program began in 2009, the alliance has collected more than 1,200 tons of shell that will provide homes for 150 million young oysters. "This program has been successful in other regions in promoting recycling by businesses and the public. I am confident that this will help us grow in a region that is already a strong supporter of the bay," Abel said.
Perdue Farms will also provide volunteer support to enhance the oyster population Bay-wide. On June 20, Perdue Farms' associates and family members joined the Oyster Recovery Partnership staff to fill hundreds of bags with oyster shell bags for future oyster restoration projects. The bags are needed for oyster hatchery production and will help provide a home for approximately 1 million oysters. Young larvae will attach themselves to the clean oyster shells at the University of Maryland Horn Point Oyster Hatchery in Cambridge where they are produced. These bags of "spat on shell" are used in the Marylanders Grow Oysters effort.
Since 2009, more than 200 Perdue volunteers have filled more than 3,800 shell bags.
"This marks our fifth year joining the Oyster Recovery Partnership in this community-based conversation initiative," said Chad Clem, Perdue's project coordinator for the volunteer effort. "It is gratifying to work on a project like this when I know that Perdue is so strongly committed to the environment and the health of the Chesapeake Bay and its watersheds."
"For years, the Oyster Recovery Partnership has led the way in efforts to protect and preserve the regional oyster population, and we are proud to continue our support through the funding provided by the Arthur W. Perdue Foundation," said Steve Schwalb, vice president of environmental sustainability. "We're proud to join the Oyster Recovery Partnership in protecting the Bay and restoring the oyster population."