When I started this project, my hope was that I could weave meaningful stories into the enchanting world of oysters. I have been modestly asking for stories from oyster farmers across the country and around the world, and the responses I have received are so inspiring and special – passions not only around the craft and the cultivating, but the effects on a greater good for the environment, their connections to nature, and childhood memories.
My first oyster story on this site is about Effingham Oysters, which are grown in a tucked away area on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, in Barkley Sound. Meet Mica Verbrugge, the Founder and Farmer of Effingham Oysters. This is Mica’s story.
Mica: When I was a kid I used to go stay at “the cabin” with my papa (grand dad). It was a 60 km boat ride from Port Alberni. From the cabin, we would travel 10 minutes into Effingham Inlet to catch prawns. One of my earliest memories doing this was on my 5th Birthday. There were oyster farms in Effingham Inlet at the time.
Moving forward in life, I got into commercial fishing in the Summer and Christmas tree farming in the winter. I deck handed at first, then became a captain and finally bought a boat. During my first year as a skipper, I fished in Effingham Inlet. It was like I was drawn to the place.
If you combine the patience to grow a Christmas tree, with the marine skills of a Fishing Captain, you get an Oyster Farmer! Effingham Oysters came up for sale, so I jumped on the opportunity. I’m 33 years old, and the farm is older than I am.
Getting to Know the Effingham Oysters
Mica: Effingham oysters are grown in 200-700 feet of water. We suspend the oysters in trays from rafts. The baby oysters go in the warm nutrient rich surface water. When we tumble the oysters, they get a rough sorting and the larger oysters get put down deeper. This way as it approaches market size it goes into colder and colder water ensuring it does not try and spawn. No one likes a spawny oyster. Effingham oysters are always sweet, salty and firm.
The Best Part of Being an Oyster Farmer?
Mica: My favorite part of oyster farming is its still evolving. I have a couple ideas I want to try to develop a better oyster. I’m looking for more flavor, longer shelf life, harder shells, and more environmental benefits.
Where Can We Find Them?
Mica: LGSeafoods, A wholesaler in California sends our oysters all over the US. We have shipped to Seacore in Toronto and Pierless Seafoods in New York. We’ve started sales in Montreal! We attend and shuck at a couple festivals in BC and Washington. We’re looking to go to the Halifax Oyster Festival in the Fall.
For the Oyster Adventurer…
Mica: If you’re out this way, we’re starting to do tours. You would have to go to the very west side of Vancouver Island. The tour consists of a 15 minute flight over Barkley Sound and the whale infested Pacific Rim National Park. You’ll land at the farm. For the next 45 minutes I’ll show and explain the oyster nursery, tumbling, sorting and bagging. Followed up by a shucking demo, extremely fresh oysters and a glass of wine. Then you’re back on the plane to Ucluelet.
If anyone is interested in further information on the oysters or the tours, you can reach out to Victoria Lake, who manages Sales and Marketing. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call at +1-604-537-0326.