Drakes Bay Oyster Farm is a historic family farm located in Point Reyes National Seashore, about an hour north of San Francisco, California. The oyster farm has been in operation for over 80 years. The current owners are the Lunnys, a fourth-generation ranching family in Point Reyes, where they also raise grass-fed and organic beef.
The Lunnys purchased this historic oyster farm to revive a part of the community and ensure the health of the estero. The oyster farm provides local jobs and a sustainable food product that supports local businesses and comprises almost 40% of California’s shellfish production. The Lunny family’s stewardship of the oyster farm has resulted in award-winning oysters, and has protected the pristine waters of Drakes Estero and its abundant wildlife. The seals in Drakes Estero have never been more plentiful.
In November 2012, the National Park Service issued a decision to shut down the business. The oyster farm contested that decision, and appealed the case to the United States Supreme Court. On Monday June 30, that appeal was denied. That ended the injunction that had been keeping the farm in business.
On-farm retail sales at the oyster farm are ending July 31, 2014. At least for the foreseeable future. The oyster farm has been granted at least 30 days to harvest more oysters from the estero. Look for these prized Drakes Bay oysters at the finest restaurants in the Bay Area.
A group of concerned citizens including Tomales Bay Oyster Company and farm-to-table chefs Patty Unterman and Margaret Grade are pursuing their own, separate lawsuit against the Park Service for its unjust actions.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Funding received through this campaign is used to increase awareness of the injustice of this decision. Visible public support is crucial to our cause.
The Park Service and its allies have justified their preference for an oyster-free estero by misrepresenting the facts. We intend to continue to counter this misinformation.
During Round One of our crowdfunding effort, our supporters provided funds that are helping us to maintain our advocacy website and to retain public-relations professionals to help us handle the increased attention to our cause.
We will continue to update the website, and we will continue to document the stories of the oyster farm's brokenhearted customers.
So many families have been visiting the oyster farm for generations. Our oysters are part of many people's holiday traditions. One family told us they have an annual tradition of visiting our oyster farm, saying "Our trip not only gives us reasons for the family to travel together and spend quality time with each other but it also provide an educational experience for my children." This family travels 500 miles to visit us!
We are so honored to have kept this tradition alive, and deeply saddened to see it end. Most upsetting is the human cost--30+ loyal, longtime workers with specialized skills. The oyster farm recently won the right to continue to harvest for at least another month past its forced closing date for on-farm retail operations, July 31, 2014; this allows them to retains some workers for a time.
Visit our website and join our mailing list to stay current on next steps.
THESE SKILLED WORKERS ARE LOSING THEIR JOBS
Pictured Above: Isela Meza, our staff marine biologist, oversees the handling of microscopic oyster larvae, ensuring that they set and begin to grow properly at the beginning of the oyster-planting process. The photo above shows Isela with a baby oyster in the hatchery.
Drakes Bay Oyster Farm employed 30 full-time workers and provides housing for some of them. Many of these employees have worked at the oyster farm for decades.The historic oyster farm has traditionally been a source of work for the wives of the ranch hands working in this agrarian community, a tradition the Lunnys have been proud to continue.
To learn more about these wonderful workers, please visit our Meet the Oyster Workers page on our advocacy site.
LUNNY FAMILY STEWARDSHIP
The Lunnys are one of the ranching and farming families in West Marin that keep this beautiful land connected to its agrarian past and are creating a sustainable future. The Lunny family began dairy ranching in Point Reyes in 1946 and is known for its agricultural innovation.
The Lunny ranch created the first certified organic and certified grass-fed beef herd in Marin County, and was the first beef ranch in California to be certified Salmon Safe for the management of its riparian areas, pastures, and manure. The Lunnys received an Excellence in Rangeland Management award from the Society of Rangeland Management in 2009, and were the first beef ranch in California to receive the Animal Welfare Approved seal for humane treatment of animals.
In late 2004, the Lunnys purchased the historic oyster farm in Drakes Estero from the Johnson family, its previous owners since 1957. The farm dates to the 1930s. The Lunnys named it Drakes Bay Oyster Company, its original name.
The Lunnys are known as careful stewards of the land and water, not only through their own sound farming practices but also with their philanthropic contributions to conservation; donated Lunny oyster shells support both theSnowy Plover habitat restoration efforts of the San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory and the NOAA Fisheries San Francisco Bay Native Oyster Habitat Restoration project (news story here).
The Lunny family also provides educational tours of the oyster farm for school groups and for the public, increasing awareness of sustainable farming and educating the public about the importance of a healthy ecosystem.
In 2007, the Lunnys were recognized by the Park Service for environmental stewardship and innovation in its publication Stewardship Begins with People. (See page 45) To learn more about our stewardship practices, please visit our advocacy site.