Astonishing views of the Chesapeake are part of the draw at Silver Swan Bayside, the popular special-event facility on Kent Island. The company is taking a step this fall to return the favor to Mother Nature, giving back to the Bay through an “Oyster Partnership” designed to help clean the Bay by boosting the population of one of its signature creatures.
Silver Swan will celebrate the launch of this endeavor at its monthly open-to-the-public Supper Club event on Thursday, Oct. 19.
“The urge to try and help comes naturally here,” says David Andersen, Chief of Operations for Queen Anne Marina and Silver Swan Bayside. “It is hard from our waterfront location to overlook the treasure we have in the Bay, so it’s imperative that we do what we can to enhance the quality of the Bay and its ecosystem. “
Managed by the nonprofit Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Oyster Partnership gives individuals and businesses a chance to pitch in and boost the Bay’s health. Participating waterfront landowners sink cages full of baby oysters from their docks. They then care for those cages—by cleaning them and shaking out sediment regularly—while the oysters grow.
Silver Swan has committed to 50 cages on its docks, a number that Andersen says would rank as “one of the bigger installs” in the Bay-wide program.
After a period of roughly nine months, the oysters get big and strong enough to be planted on “sanctuary” reefs that are off limits to commercial harvesting. Along with many other shellfish, oysters possess a clean-water superpower. In the process of eating bits of floating algae and phytoplankton floating, they remove nutrients like nitrogen, a key ingredient in fertilizers. Excess nitrogen is bad news for water quality, but abundant oysters can help—scientists say a single adult filters the nitrogen out of 50 gallons a day.
Healthy, unharvested oyster reefs also boost the blue crab population. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation cites one study finding that juvenile crabs growing up on healthy oyster reefs survive at rates three to four times higher compared with crabs on a sandy, oysterless bottom.
“The fact that this program cleans the water in the bay is a great enough reason to participate, but the positive effect it has on the crab fishery that our watermen depend on makes it a project we cannot turn away,” says Amanda Bramble, Director of Events and Sales at Silver Swan.
In the days before the Supper Club event on Oct. 19, Silver Swan Bayside and Chesapeake Bay Foundation workers will sink those 50 cages. There will be some expert talk over that dinner about the Oyster Partnership, as well as an opportunity for landowners to sign up to participate next year if they want.
The five-course meal with wine and cocktail pairings will be prepared by Chesapeake Chef Service, a team of private chefs specializing in shore-to-table foods sourced from local waters and local farms. The October menu is still in the planning stages, but Bramble says diners can expect some delectable items that speak to healthy Bay living.
“This dinner and the project it celebrates is just a natural step for Silver Swan Bayside,” Bramble says. “It’s a perfect fit with our mission of helping this community and its visitors to celebrate the milestones in their lives amid the awesome beauty and bounty of the Chesapeake.”
For reservations for October’s Supper Club, please email [email protected] or call them at 443.249.0400.