By Linda Hunter
A vibrant mix of Bay Area foodies, oyster lovers and environmentalists came together last Thursday to celebrate our local terroir at The Watershed Project’s second annual celebration of the humble oyster, Bubbles & Bivalves. Guests enjoyed scrumptious fare from some of the City’s finest restaurants, local wineries, breweries and chocolatiers.
We were proud to host James Beard Award-winning author Rowan Jacobsen who, literally, wrote the book on oysters. Rowan’s A Geography of Oysters, his website and blog are considered de rigueur for restaurants and bivalve aficionados alike. In his latest book, American Terroir, Rowan aptly describes an oyster as, “a bouillon cube distilled from a bay’s broth… If you want to quickly grasp the essence of a bay, to understand what makes it different from another, you would do well to spend some time getting to know its oysters.”
Bubbles & Bivalves is an annual celebration of The Watershed Project’s visionary oyster restoration and education program, The Living Shoreline. The Living Shoreline Initiative starts in the Bay, where we are building an oyster community. Oysters were once plentiful in the Bay. Overharvesting, degraded water quality and competition from non-native species nearly destroyed our native oyster population. Together with concerned scientists of the San Francisco Bay Native Oyster Working Group and the help of educators, students and volunteers, we are working to restore that lost habitat.
Our Wild! Oyster education program includes classroom and outdoor experiential learning for youth, and volunteer restoration and monitoring activities for adults. The data that students and teachers collect helps scientists understand how best to restore native oysters to the San Francisco Bay and the critical role these bivalves play in the underwater web of life.
Last Thursday, we were delighted to welcome new converts to the exciting world of oyster restoration by treating them to the finest oysters the Bay Area produces. These dedicated people are helping The Watershed Project build an oyster reef at Point Pinole in Richmond. The reef will not only become home to native Olympia oysters but they will provide shelter for young salmon making their long journey from our watersheds to the open ocean. We’re grateful to all who attended our event– You are the vanguard of the movement to restore the health of the Bay. Cheers to a fantastic event! We are already looking forward to next year.
Photos by Matt Freiberg