All summer we have been talking nicely to our oysters in the Bristol Channel, encouraging them to grow. And it has worked.
We recently completed our final grading of the oyster stock at Porlock for this growing season and we have sufficient oysters of saleable size to re-start supplying local restaurants and retail outlets this week.
We should be able to supply them until around Christmas.
We also have additional stock of saleable size at our nursery site at Bantham which we should be in a position to sell early in the new year.
With the Bantham stock growing well and the larger stock at Porlock close to saleable size we aim to be in a position to supply our customers on a regular basis by June or July next year.
We currently have around 75,000 oysters of varying size at Porlock and just under 500,000 seed and part grown oysters at Bantham. We will take delivery of a further 550,000 seed oysters at Bantham in the spring of next year.
Our 80,000 assorted sized oysters are alive and well on their trestles in Porlock Bay.
We bought the very biggest ones available when we got our Power To Change grant in February.
Some of those are nearly big enough to sell. We will be carrying out an inspection at the next very low tide on 15/16 October.
If we have sufficient to sell we will notify our existing local customers and also let you know on this website.
After October the water temperature will be too low for them to grow until next April / May. They will just shiver throughout the winter months!
It is looking good for next summer when we will start our sales in earnest. We have hundreds of thousands of baby oysters at our nursery site in Devon and they are growing extremely well. They will provide our stock for the first 2 -3 years. They will be brought up to Porlock in batches and put into Porlock Bay to acquire that fabulous Porlock taste.
Fame is coming to Porlock courtesy of our lovely community oyster project…
ITV Countrywise with Ben Fogle will be broadcast on Friday 7 October at 8pm. We have a five-minute item.
Plus we have a feature article coming up in the Weekend Telegraph Magazine in their ‘Best of Britain’ series on Saturday 22 October.
We have also been filmed by BBC Escape to the Country. This will be another 5 minute article to be broadcast next summer and then repeated forever.
…and we have just had a contact from BBC Great British Menu who will probably film us for the 2017 series.
We have just done a photoshoot for a Weekend Telegraph feature in their ‘Best of Britain Series’ to be published on 15 September.
Two weeks ago we were filmed by ITV Countrywise with Ben Fogle. This will be a 5 minute feature and will be broadcast sometime in the autumn. Watch this space to find out the time and date as soon as we have been informed.
So just when we thought it couldn’t get better – it did! BBC Escape to the Country emailed us and as a result last Friday afternoon was spent being filmed by them. This 5 minute slot will be televised next summer in 2017. This will be perfect as we will be in full production then. And the programme is repeated up to 8 times and is sold to other TV channels. So Porlock will be on national TV for years.
One of the main purposes of this venture is to raise the tourist profile of the area. It looks like our community project is doing that beyond our wildest dreams
They are alive and well growing steadily under the waves at Redsands. I was on the site a couple of weeks ago with our operations manager, Tim Edwards and fellow Porlock Futures colleague, David Salter. I am delighted to report that the oysters are looking very healthy and are growing steadily by about 10% per month.
Earlier this year when we got the grant money from the Power To Change Fund we immediately bought the largest part grown oysters that were available at the time. Now the largest are averaging 65gms and to be big enough for sale, they need to be 75 – 100gms. So it is quite possible that we will have some to sell in October. Then the temperature of the sea water will drop and they will stop growing until April / May next year.
The hundreds of thousands of seed and small oysters that we have in our nursery site at Bigbury on the River Avon are growing extremely well. One of the reasons we have this nursery site is that the growing season is 6 – 8 weeks longer than the open sea and the growth is faster. Eventually we will bring the oysters in batches to Porlock and leave them in our waters until they acquire ‘The Porlock Taste’. Our top local chef, Andrew Dixon at The Café Porlock Weir has described our oysters as the best he has ever tasted. Martin Hesp a local food critic described them as a connoisseur’s oyster.
It is, of course, very frustrating waiting for our delicious oysters to grow as we would love to be selling them now.
But all good things are worth waiting for and we know that our Porlock Bay Oysters are really good.
Everyone from Porlock Bay Oysters who recently attended a Bivalve Purification Course has passed the exam and been awarded their certificate by The Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland and organised by the Sea Fish Industry Authority.
This is an important step in developing our professionalism and ensuring that we supply oysters that are not only of the highest standard, but also safely processed and packaged. Well done everyone!
The attached photograph shows some of us attending a Bivalve Shellfish Purification Operations Course.
This explained what health risks oysters can present and how to avoid or prevent them. It was re-assuring that everything we are doing aligned with the course recommendations for best practice. We showed our Depuration plant at Porlock Weir to one of the tutors and an environmental health officer who was also attending the course as a student. They were very impressed.
We have a policy of adopting industry best practices and strive to be a high quality business
Our latest check on our oysters is very encouraging. We now expect to be able to resume sales earlier than the previous September estimate.
We are checking the oysters again on 4 July and will issue another update then.
We have tens of thousands of oysters of various sizes on the beach at Porlock. We will ensure that when we do resume sales that we have enough stock to ensure continuity of supply.
In the meantime, thank you for your patience and understanding. We were so pleased and surprised with your support by ordering our oysters in such quantities after the launch. And we are excited that experts like Martin Hesp have said that the taste of our oysters was outstanding.
Yes we have finally got there. After four years in gestation we opened for business on Spring Bank Holiday Monday 2 May 2016.
We held a wonderful launch party at The Café, Porlock Weir. Despite the rain, 140 of you turned up and scoffed the 400 oysters we supplied! It was a special thank you to a special community. You have given us all kinds of support from material to encouragement. In early March we invited you to give us loans of up to £1000 for 5 – 7 years. Just a few weeks later over 140 of you have granted us loans of well over the £65,000 target we had in our business plan.
And we have put the money to good use. On the beach we have installed 70 large metal trestles. On them we have bagged and attached 80,000 part grown oysters. The 80,000 oysters were delivered to Minehead Harbour. They weighed 3 tons and were sent round the headland to the beach at Redsands in 3 very heavily laden boats. In just 5 days (all the tide would allow us) we completed installing them on the beach.
This was achieved with the 5 part-time workers we have recruited. This immediately fulfils one of our principal objectives, namely the creation of jobs. Anecdotally we are also hearing that a lot of visitors have heard about the oysters and want to see or buy them. Raising the profile of Porlock to encourage trade is another of our objectives. And the press love us. Our launch party was covered by BBCTV Points West, Radio Somerset, all the local press and even the Daily Telegraph.
And we have bought a small boat to help to harvest the oysters. And a new building has emerged in Porlock Weir. Well to be more precise, we have renovated and equipped what was a derelict garage to become our depuration and packaging centre. Depuration is how we kill off any bacteria in the oysters before we despatch them. We are currently going through the process of having the plant licensed.
So we now have to make it work as a viable business. You cannot imagine the amount of hard work that has gone on to make this a reality. So it is more than pleasing that, judging by the interest and initial sales demand, we have started well. Indeed more than just well, the demand has been phenomenal. Indeed we may well sell out within the next week or two. We sold 3,000 oysters in just 3 weeks when we thought it would take 3 months. The restaurants just loved them and can’t wait to get more. It seems that the flavour is outstanding. So we have tens of thousands of oyster. growing on the beach, the first of which should be ready for sale at the beginning of September.