Imagine being a farmer who raises one crop that takes between three and five years to mature. A water crop, no less, that must survive and flourish in the Damariscotta River, through coming and going tides, ice flows, temperature variations, boat traffic, predators and unwanted contaminants. And I used to think a good crop of winter wheat was challenging!
Barbara Scully has farmed the world-famous Glidden Point Oysters for 28 years. With the help of an energetic and well-coordinated crew of young folk (including her son Benn and daughter Morgan), Barbara runs the whole operation.
She has encountered many obstacles along the way, both personal and professional, but the woman's energy and knowledge is palpable.
To boot, Barbara is the primary harvester of her mature crop. One oyster at a time, she picks oysters off the river bottom in a wet suit, 10 to 40 feet below the surface, filling and dragging a sack beside her. Barbara's first dive of the season is coming up, but as you can see from this week's photo, winter has impeded her start.
Hundreds of thousands of oysters are collected each year and shipped near and far. Glidden Point Oysters are considered by many connoisseurs to be the best on the East Coast. Like land crops that can be grown in a variety of areas, Barbara's oysters are farmed in different parts of the Damariscotta River, creating unique qualities, shapes and flavors.
Slow growth may be an important key to Glidden Pointers superior qualities. The oysters are not rushed, and their flavors and characteristics reflect this patience. They are ready when they are ready.
I've not eaten many oysters in my life, but when this year's crop begins to surface, I will test the waters.
Barb's oysters certainly are very highly regarded and a great testament to hard work, perseverance and quality.