Oyster shells from Atlanta eating places are serving to save the Georgia coast

With SOLO’s Maurice Bailey, Shell to Shore hundreds its first cured oyster shells onto Sapelo Island in 2021.

{Photograph} courtesy of Rinne Allen

Hunt Revell realized that oysters are extra than simply slurpable blissful hour treats when he taught highschool in New York Metropolis. A Georgia boy, he remarked to his coworkers that he grew up consuming oysters on a regular basis, to which they replied, “‘Yeah, however we like them as a result of they filter 50 gallons of water a day, they usually’re good for the marine habitat, and oyster reefs might help with storm surge, flooding, and erosion, and we expect they’re an excellent sustainable meals supply,’” recollects Revell. “I used to be like, Whoa, okay, that’s a complete ’nother degree of affection for oysters.” This caught with him when he moved again residence, and in 2021 he cofounded Shell to Shore, an oyster shell recycling nonprofit, in hopes of restoring Georgia’s shorelines.

The chance to discovered Shell to Shore introduced itself to Revell and some people he labored with at Seabear Oyster Bar in Athens when he got here throughout a grant via the Nature Conservancy’s SOAR (Supporting Oyster Aquaculture and Restoration) program. “It was sufficient to get us going, which was mainly to purchase a truck and get sufficient individuals who have been to make use of the truck to select up shells from the restaurant,” says Revell.

Revell turned to his neighbor Nik Heynen, a geography professor on the College of Georgia, to get the group off the bottom. Heynen facilitated a collaboration between Shell to Shore and Save Our Legacy Ourself (SOLO), which preserves the Saltwater Geechee tradition on Sapelo Island via agriculture. The oyster shells collected from eating places are cured (i.e., left within the solar to kill off any organic matter they harbor) for six months on a farm in Athens earlier than they’re transported to Sapelo Island. There, they bolster Sapelo’s shoreline in flood-prone areas.

Shell to Shore’s roster of restaurant sources consists of Kimball Home, Miller Union, and Steamhouse Lounge, along with eating places in Athens. “We type of go to eating places with the angle of ‘What can we do to make this the smallest raise potential for you? How can we set this up so it’s not a ache in your neck, so that you’ll preserve doing it?’” says Revell. They haul about 2,000 kilos of oyster shells each different week, they usually’re hoping to extend their frequency this 12 months. Moreover, they purpose to broaden their attain alongside the coast.

Engaged on this undertaking has introduced Heynen a brand new appreciation for oysters. He had solely ever eaten a handful, however working with Shell to Shore and SOLO piqued his curiosity within the bivalves. He even volunteered at Seabear to enhance his shucking expertise. “Yeah, I’ve had a really intense development curve with oysters,” says Heynen. “I really like consuming them and love being round them now in a approach that I didn’t ever think about.”

This text seems in our February 2024 difficulty.

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