Great Bay, New Hampshire
Jay Baker has embraced a mission to grow high quality oysters and improve the quality of the water through sustainable practices.
A new calling in sustainable practices
In his professional career, Jay was a strong advocate for sustainable business models - less impact on land and water and approaches that would protect those resources and restore them. That’s why he left his full-time job as an environmental regulator with the state of Massachusetts in 2012 to start Fat Dog Shellfish, with two of his long-time friends and co-workers, Alex and Bob Boeri. “When I left my professional career and began oyster farming, I was able to put what I was preaching into action,” said Jay.
Fat Dog Shellfish is an oyster farm on the Great Bay estuary in New Hampshire. The founders, along with their families, pride themselves on consistently growing the highest quality oysters while remaining good stewards of the bay.
A win-win solution
According to Jay, enrichment from farm and storm runoff leads to one of the many challenges the embayment and estuaries face in New England. This runoff causes an excess supply of nutrients which, in turn, grows more plankton that feed off those nutrients and deplete both oxygen and sunlight penetration in the water. In general, too much plankton means less habitat for plants, finfish and other marine life.
Oysters act as filter-feeders for the bay by filtering the plankton out of the water and can restore as much as 50 gallons of water a day. It takes two to three years to grow a thumbnail-sized oyster to its market weight and size, which is about 3-inches, and their filtering capacity grows along with that. According to Jay, oyster farming is becoming more and more sustainable and an increasingly popular solution to improve the clarity of coastal waterways.
Financing a growing farm
To continue growing his business, Jay knew he needed a financial partner that understood aquaculture and the importance of sustainable production practices. With the help of Farm Credit East, Jay has continued to grow his business and improve water quality for his farm and the Great Bay.
A growing business
Since 2012, Fat Dog Shellfish has grown to serve 15 different raw bars, restaurants and retailers between Boston and Portsmouth, N.H. Jay said, “Looking forward, we are not only looking to produce more oysters but higher quality oysters for consumers. That is why we are thankful to work alongside someone who understands aquaculture, like Farm Credit East.”