Westmoreland Oyster Garden
Oyster Day at the Park, June 25, 2022
Situated on the shores of the Potomac River, not far from the Chesapeake Bay, the Westmoreland State Park is a natural area for supporting oysters and is an ideal location to demonstrate the importance of eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica) to health of the river and the bay and to provide a learning opportunity on the lifecycle, history, and aquaculture of oysters in Virginia.
In January of 2021, the Friends of Westmoreland Park decided to develop an Oyster Garden Project as an educational experience where visitors can see a growing oyster garden in action at the boat dock and discover the value of oysters to the ecological well-being of the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay at the Discovery Center. The Park has over 1,300 acres, 1.5 miles of Potomac River shoreline and with over 300,000 visitors each year, it is an excellent opportunity to encourage interest in oyster gardening.
In February, the TOGA Board of Directors voted to support the demonstration project by providing floats, bags, informational signage, oyster education resources and expertise to assist the Park in this effort. This project is supported by a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund.
In mid-April TOGA conducted an on-site oyster float workshop with Park volunteers and staff and built the two Taylor floats and the two Flip floats that will be used in the project.
In early May, the oyster garden was launched and 2,000 diploid oyster spat (size approximately 3/8 inch) were planted in two oyster floats attached to the boat dock on the Potomac River. Twenty-five interested park guests attended the launch to learn about oysters and additional Park volunteers offered to help with future activities.
Monthly oyster inspections have been scheduled and will be conducted by TOGA members (who are also Park volunteers) to encourage park guests to follow the progress of growing oysters and to volunteer to help with the project. At these sessions, the oysters are inspected and cleaned, and an oyster interpretation program is conducted.
Oyster Day at Westmoreland State Park
June 25, 2022
On June 25, 2022, the park held its first Oyster Day. It featured the opening of the new oyster education exhibit and celebrated the first anniversary of the demonstration oyster garden at the Westmoreland State Park Boat Dock.
The Oyster Garden Project was recognized with a 2022 Virginia Green Travel Star Award from the Virginia Green Travel Alliance. Ranger Steve Davis presented the award to the Friends of Westmoreland State Park and the Tidewater Oyster Gardeners Association for their contributions to the project.
In addition, the program included presentations on the history of oysters in the Chesapeake Bay and on the importance of oysters to the Bay and the Potomac River. Oyster Day participants also had a hands-on experience of inspecting the oysters that are growing in the oyster garden and starting a new garden with baby oysters.