Most of us would love to be our own boss, but starting your own business can be scary in uncertain economic times. Luckily, Eastern Shore native, John Apple and his dad are risk takers. They have combined their love of the water, their home on the shore, and seafood to bring the public a new option for locally grown oysters.
Apple started Bay Landing Shellfish Company with his dad last year. They were interested in aquaculture and after researching it, settled on oyster farming. Bay Landing works cooperatively with another waterman to grow oysters behind Assateague Island using racks on the bottom of the bay. The watermen lease about twelve acres of bay bottom from the state to use for cultivation. This method has less impact on the bay bottom than dredging, which pulls a rake across the bottom. They are still learning but demonstrate that the common clichés are true – great risk can bring great reward. If you do what you love, you never have to work a day in your life.
Growing up by the waters of South Point and as an avid surfer, some may have predicted a career as a waterman for this native. With an entrepreneurial spirit, he and his dad wanted to utilize the resources that their hometown has to offer. Taking after several generations of watermen before them, Apple and his father make a living while enjoying and conserving our local resources.
Oysters can filter up to 50 gallons of water per day, having a great impact on water quality. Completed in a sustainable way, oyster aquaculture can contribute to a healthy ecosystem. Farming oysters can reduce stress on wild oyster populations that improve water quality, provide habitat for other organisms, and stabilize shorelines. The Chesapeake Bay foundation has a large project to restore wild oyster populations and educate watermen about sustainable oyster farming techniques.
The newly renovated Skye Bar at Galaxy 66 also totes a raw bar. John can be found shucking local oysters here about three days a week. I have to say that his Mojo oysters are delicious. Chincoteague Bay oysters have signature saltiness, but the Mojo’s are definitely the saltiest.
Not being an oyster aficionado, even I could tell the difference and loved every minute. I like to eat oysters with saltine or oyster crackers and a dab of hot sauce. John says that he likes to experiment with different hot sauces but keeps it simple, maybe with a little lemon.
John harvests these gems himself so they are always fresh. Come visit him at the Skye Bar, where you can talk about local oysters and sample some of his produce. He may even tell you about his sure-to-be-famous signature dish, Salty Oinkers. Support local businesses and locally grown seafood. Don’t forget, oysters make for a perfect date night. You know what they say about eating oysters…
To learn more, check out the Bay Landing Shellfish Co. Facebook page. All photos from the Facebook page.