Local business seeks to bring fresh oysters to Boston area
SOUTH CHATHAM – Two local men have started a Community Supported Aquaculture (CSA) program to bring fresh, locally grown oysters to residents of Cape Town and Greater Boston.
Shellfish Broker, based in South Chatham, will deliver three dozen fresh oysters to subscribers once a month. Currently, the service is open to residents of Boston, Cambridge, Somerville and Brookline. Local residents can also subscribe and pick up oysters at the company’s South Chatham facility.
Fresh-off-the-boat seafood has grown in popularity over the past year to avoid crowded markets and to support local fishermen. But access to fresh seafood isn’t as easy for those who don’t live near fishing ports, and shipping can be expensive and difficult. Getting to Cape Town, even from Boston, hasn’t been an option for many people, said co-founder Matt Belson.
“The pandemic and its disruptions associated with quarantines and closures meant that many people were unable to make it to Cape Cod and access the local shellfish to which they were accustomed before the pandemic,” wrote Belson, a resident of Harwich, in an email.
The CSA is the brainchild of local residents Jamie Bassett, co-founder and CEO of Shellfish Broker, and Belson, co-founder and COO of the company. Bassett is a longtime commercial fisherman in Chatham and chairman of the town’s Seashell Advisory Board, while Belson, a Harwich resident, is the co-founder of Devil’s Purse Brewing Co. The two met at the university.
The idea for CSA grew out of their partnership last summer with GreenCrab.org, which enabled them to deliver fresh green crabs to residents and restaurants in the Boston area. The group donated over 1,000 pounds of green crabs to promote consumption of the species. Considered invasive here, green crabs have been a delicacy in the Mediterranean region for centuries, according to the group’s website.
âThe green crab competition last summer in Somerville was a great success and it was a great opportunity to work with GreenCrab.org who organized the promotion,â said Belson.
“We believe there is a way to expand the retail market beyond Cape Town and connect more consumers to delicious oysters through this program while minimizing the environmental impact of packaging and shipping costs. excessive shipping, âBassett said in a statement.
Shellfish Broker delivers fresh oysters to residents of Boston, Cambridge, Somerville and Brookline on the second Saturday of each month, starting in April. The orders include 36 local oysters of three different varieties from rotating producers. A one-month share costs $ 75, with free shipping. The three-month season subscription at $ 215 gives subscribers six âmystery oystersâ with each delivery.
Each month will feature different oyster regions on Cape Cod and the rest of the state, allowing consumers to try different local oysters that they might not have the chance to buy in local supermarkets or restaurants, according to the company. Each share also includes a digital oyster guide for specific varieties, highlighting individual farms, growing conditions, flavor profiles, and even food and wine pairings.
âThe pandemic has hit our local oystercatchers on Cape Cod particularly hard with the closure of so many restaurants to the point where supply has far exceeded demand,â Belson said. âAnd we believe that this delivery program benefits not only the consumer but also the oyster farmers in our communities. “
The deadline to register for the program is April 5 and the first delivery is scheduled for April 10. If the program is successful, the company will branch out into other varieties of locally caught shellfish, including clams, scallops, mussels and green crabs. . After the initial three-month mini-season premiere, the company may also consider expanding delivery options, Belson said.
For more information and to register with ASC, visit www.shellfishbroker.com.