Farmer: Skip Bennett
Location: Duxbury Bay, MA, CCB45MA
Size: 2.5" - 3" on average
How they're grown: Row 34s are raised from seed in our hatchery and kept in an upweller system for a few months before they’re moved to floating bags in Duxbury’s Back River. The Back River is naturally shielded from harsh winds and storms that roll through, has good tidal flow, and is full of nutritious algae for baby oysters to eat. Once they’re hardy enough, they’re sent out to the farm to take on the signature flavors of Duxbury Bay’s cold, salty waters.
Once winter comes, the seed is pulled from the water and placed under Skip’s dad’s barn (yes, you read that correctly), where they’re insulated by the ground and they’ll hibernate below 40 degrees. In the spring, they make their way to the outermost edge of Skip’s lease, closest to the mouth of the bay, into trays that make up the 34th (and 35th and 36th and 37th…) row of the farm.
How they taste: The Row 34’s are a bit cleaner than the Island Creeks. Still briny, but less vegetal, earthy flavors because they are not bottom planted. Clean, crisp with mineral notes. A splash of saltwater.
Skip’s Bennett's first “pivot” from his original Island Creek Oysters. Skip has always grown the Island Creek seed (baby oysters) in off-bottom gear before bottom planting them at about 6 months old. In an attempt to show the 'hand of the grower' in the final product, Skip decided to leave the 34th row in the trays for the whole grow-out process. Hence the name Row 34’s.
Why they're unique: Row 34 trays are stacked three high; the bottom tray grows the fastest, and a few times a week the oysters are tumbled from one tray to another by hand. Tumbling encourages strong shells, consistent growth, and plump meats.
Story: Row 34s are a perfect example of “Merroir”. Merroir (like Terroir of the sea) means that each oyster is directly impacted by the elements of its surroundings, including (but not limited to) the algae it feeds on, temperature of water, strength of currents and tides, mineral content of the bay floor, season, and technique. Skip has always grown Island Creek seed in bottom planted gear, but one year he dedicated the 34th row of his farm to growing oysters in trays that never touch the bay floor. He was surprised that the oysters took on a very different flavor from the neighboring ICOs, and Row 34s have become a cult favorite amongst our farmers ever since. They’re so special, they even have a restaurant named after them.