Perdue volunteers, Oyster Recovery Partnership fill shell bags to help restore Bay's oyster population

Perdue associates fill bags with oyster shells at the company’s headquarters in Salisbury, in support of the Marylanders Grow Oysters Program to help restore the Chesapeake Bay’s oyster population.

SALISBURY — More than two dozen Perdue associates and family members joined with Oyster Recovery Partnership (ORP) representatives to fill about 800 oyster shell bags in support of the Marylanders Grow Oysters program, an initiative run by ORP and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to engage waterfront homeowners in helping to restore the Chesapeake Bay’s oyster population. The bagged shells will provide a home for about 2 million new oysters in the Bay.

“The Oyster Recovery Partnership has been a leader in efforts to protect and preserve the regional oyster population, and we’re honored to continue are partnership with ORP that highlights our company commitment to environmental stewardship through this volunteer engagement initiative,” said Steve Levitsky, vice president of sustainability at Perdue Farms. This marks Perdue’s 10th year partnering with ORP on this volunteer event.

The Marylanders Grow Oysters program provides an opportunity for waterfront property owners to grow oysters from their piers to be planted on local oyster sanctuary preserves around the Chesapeake Bay to help rebuild local oyster populations.

The Oyster Recovery Partnership delivered a large truckload of cleaned and aged oyster shells to Perdue’s Corporate Office parking lot where volunteers filled nylon bags with the empty shells. The bags are a key component in the oyster production process, allowing the shells to be easily transported to and from oyster larvae setting tanks. Oyster larvae will attach themselves to the recycled shells through a setting process at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Horn Point Oyster Hatchery in Cambridge, where the larvae are produced. Once the larvae attach to the shell, the baby oysters (now called “spat”) will be distributed among the 30 tributaries participating in the 2019 Marylanders Grow Oysters program.

“We are excited and grateful to celebrate a decade of partnership with our good friends at Perdue Farms,” said Stephan Abel, executive director of ORP. “Through their willingness and enthusiasm to volunteer over the past 10 years, Perdue has bagged enough shell to support the planting of nearly 25 million young oysters in local waterways, contributing to the success of the Marylanders Grow Oysters program on the Eastern Shore.”

As Mark Patterson, project coordinator for Perdue’s oyster recovery volunteer efforts, explains, “Partnering with ORP in the shell-bagging effort is a fun team-building exercise for our associates and reflects our company commitment to community-based conservation efforts. At Perdue, our stewardship value guides us in our commitment to protect our environment and we take great pride in efforts like this that enable our associates to give back for the betterment of our community and the environment.”

About the Oyster Recovery Partnership

The Oyster Recovery Partnership has a 25-year history of bringing together state and federal government agencies, scientists, watermen and conservation organizations with the common goal of oyster restoration. The Oyster Recovery Partnership has planted 8 billion oysters, rehabilitated 2,640 acres of oyster reefs and recycled more than 6, of oyster shell from restaurants throughout the DC-Maryland-Virginia region. For more information about the Oyster Recovery Partnership, visit www.oysterrecovery.org or call 410-990-4970.

About Marylanders Grow Oysters

Marylanders Grow Oysters is an oyster stewardship program co-managed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Oyster Recovery Partnership. For more information or to participate, visit mdgrowoysters.org.

About Perdue Farms

Perdue Farms, a fourth-generation, family owned, U.S. food and agriculture company, will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2020. Perdue is the number-one brand of fresh chicken in the U.S., the largest producer of organic chicken in the U.S., and Perdue AgriBusiness is an international agricultural products and services company. Learn more at www.perduefarms.com.

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