Bright Side Oysters Zeta Recovery

About a year and a half ago I started Bright Side Oysters, a sustainable off bottom oyster farm in Grand Isle Louisiana. The idea came to me years ago while living in NYC and volunteering with the Billion Oyster Project. I learned about all of the positive environmental benefits that oysters provide. They clean the water, provide habitat for all kinds of critters, and help to slow down coastal erosion. While volunteering with the BOP I met an oyster farmer and that is what got the gears turning for me. Starting a farm meant that I would be helping promote all of these positive environmental impacts, getting to work outside, and I would own my own business all of which are things I hold to be very important.

So, when I moved to New Orleans I took on extra jobs to start saving up money and I also started learning as much as I could about oyster farming while looking for a place that I could get started. I luckily met a very generous oyster farmer Scott Mauer of Louisiana Oysters, who was willing to let me use a portion of his farm and so I jumped in and started farming. I put everything I had saved up into the farm and continued to foot the bill for operating costs as well. For a while there it was looking pretty good, I put my first little baby oysters in the water and about 8-9 months later they were starting to be ready to send out to restaurants! Unfortunately this started to happen just as Covid 19 hit, so restaurants were closing or moving to take out only, and with everything that was going on I was not able to purchase the refrigeration equipment I needed and thus not able to get the permits I needed to be able to sell my oysters. However, a few months later I was able to build my own refrigeration unit and get all the permits I needed! So I finally started selling oysters and it seemed like I was about to be able to say I was an oyster farmer not an oyster farmer and _______ insert one of many other job titles here_______.... 

Then Hurricane Zeta hit, it was just shy of a Category 3 and it was almost a direct hit to the farm. I was not able to make it out to the farm for several days after the storm due to road closures, but when I did the farm was almost unrecognizable. I grow my oysters in floating cages that are attached to a rope which is anchored to the bottom on both ends. Before the storm I had 17 lines of cages full of oysters in the water, when I got to the farm that day I could only see 3 or 4 lines and they were all mangled and tangled together. In the end I was able to recover a few more lines and find some of the cages washed ashore but I still lost about 60-70% of all my cages and oysters. Since the storm I have been rebuilding the farm with what gear I have left, working other jobs to save up as much as I can and trying to formulate a plan for the next year on the farm. I am almost totally out of oysters that are large enough to sell, and it takes about 8-9 months from when I put little baby oysters(seed oysters) out on the farm to grow them to market size so it will probably be the end of the year before I have much sales to speak of. 

I am asking for your donations to help me replace the cages, ropes, buoys and anchors that I lost to hurricane zeta. $7500 would pay for 300 cages plus all the equipment to go along with them and the seed oysters to go in them. Seed oysters are only available on occasion in the spring through the fall so there has not been an urgent need to replace the gear until now, but if I am not able to get this gear soon and get everything set up I will not be prepared when the time comes to receive seed oysters. 

Anything you are willing and able to give is greatly appreciated!!! I have some really great thank you gifts that I will be sending out with donations. For donations of $75-$150 I have some awesome and clever shucking knives that were created and gifted to me by the talented and generous Taylor Gair! And for donations of $150 or more I have some beautiful hats that were embroidered right here in New Orleans by The Inkwell Press! Spreading the word is also very much appreciated so if you want to blast  this out on facebook, instagram or anywhere else please do so!


Also, I would like to give a big shout out to both Mitchell Jarrett and Gabriel Starr for helping me get the video together, Thank Y'all so much!


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Nathan Herring 
New Orleans, LA
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