March 15, 2022

This blog post was written by Danielle Schwartz.

Today’s production brought the crew all over Barnstable and Yarmouth. The morning began with the first crew heading to the Cape Cod Oyster Company processing facility, one of the largest oyster growers in New England. Upon arrival, we filmed the main facility where the oysters are culled and cleaned before being sorted into boxes and shipped off to various vendors. Then, we spoke with Dave Ryan, the C.O.O. of the company. Dave’s son works at Cape Cod Oyster Company, and he’s proud to have family involved in the business. We discussed the role of the oyster industry in environmental stewardship and cleaner waters.

Ten miles down the Cape, the remainder of our crew was sent ahead to scout the ocean side of West Yarmouth and capture drone footage of the water and beach. The crew met up in West Yarmouth to interview Ed Janiunas of Sweetwater Creek Oyster, and Mike Dunbar of Dunbar Aquafarm. Both Ed and Mike were interviewed on the oyster industry and its impact on the area and sustainability.

Before moving to Cape Cod oyster farm in 2017, Ed was a businessman in NYC– a move made in hopes of spending more time with family. Mike Dunbar spoke about the impacts of the oyster industry on Cape Cod and how much he loves the work, referencing some of the exciting marine life that he has been able to see because of his job. After being interviewed separately, Ed and Mike sat down to tell us about their petition against Vineyard Wind’s (power company) request to develop in West Yarmouth in 2018. Ed and Mike both beamed with pride as they spoke about their efforts in preventing the company from harming their businesses and the fragile ecosystem in the area.

The crew split into three groups. The first group went to a small beach, where they met up again with Dave Ryan and went out on a boat to see a different kind of farming than the typical “mom-and-pop” shop. The boat navigated through shallow waters to an industrial scale oyster farm where workers were putting the trays into the ground. The group captured drone and Steadicam footage of the boat ride and the farm to showcase the scale and distinctiveness of an industrial oyster farm.

In Osterville, another group interviewed Jared of Barnstable Sea Farms. Jared took the crew out on a boat with his business partner, Scott, to dredge up oysters. They captured drone footage of Jared and his business partner dredging up the oysters before returning to a shed near Jared’s house to watch the men bag the oysters. They have two sites that employ two different methods: dredging and low tide cultivation on the flats. Jared spoke about the family business and how he and his brother inherited the farm from his father. He also spoke of the importance of oysters, as well as their flavor and texture profiles- more specifically, how the method of cultivation impacts flavor.

Dave’s oyster farm in Yarmouth, MA.

The third group met up with husband-and-wife oyster farmers, John and Stephanie Reeve, of Mill Creek Oyster Company. The crew donned waders and waded through salt marsh and hip-height water to see John and Stephanie’s lease in Yarmouthport. The oyster beds were the sole focal point in the low tide flats that blended into the horizon.

John and Stephanie have begun oyster farming in their retirement, a testament that it is never too late to become an expert in something new. John’s love for the outdoors and a hard day’s work drew him to this career. They told us about the unique nature of their lease, and the influence of the salt marsh on the abundance of life surrounding the oyster beds as well as the sweet flavor of their oysters.

Crew members (Left to right: Danielle Schwartz, Adam Ng, Dr. Maria Luskay, Miles Mendez) on John and Stephanie Reeve’s oyster farm.

After the interviews closed and the teams reached dry land, we regrouped for the daily ritual of logging and formatting footage, all satisfied with another beautiful day of filming.

The crew closed out the day of production with Karaoke Night at The Sand Dollar Bar & Grill. Stay tuned for more!