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The Tabor Academy Oyster Farm

My real interest in aquaculture began when I was teaching Nautical Science at Tabor Academy in Marion, Massachusetts. For recreation, I harvested oysters and clams in Sippican Harbor. One of my students had an interest in designing and building an upweller system for his senior project so I signed on as his project advisor. Upwellers encourage greater sea water flow through chambers for growing out shellfish seed. The increased amount of seawater through the upweller causes the seed to grow faster with an increased rate of food supply.

Marion Harbormaster Charles Bradley assisted with the project, giving technical advice, and so my interest in sea farming was spawned. I was so intrigued with aquaculture that I developed a demonstration oyster farm in collaboration with the Town of Marion Harbormaster’s office. The Tabor Academy Oyster Farm became a multi-dimensional marine science education platform and a community service to the town. The Tabor students assisted the Town of Marion with shellfish propagation efforts that benefited the commercial and recreational shell fishing community. The students also learned hands-on, sea farming methods which complemented their marine science studies. The whole community (and local environment too) benefited from the TA Oyster Farm.

Fast forward to June 2021. After departing my 29-year Nautical Science teaching career at Tabor, and completing a 3-year sailing adventure, I am now developing an associate degree and community education program in restorative aquaculture at Northeast Maritime Institute in Fairhaven, Massachusetts. It was fortuitous for me that managing the Tabor oyster farm provided me with the framework and experience needed to execute my new aquaculture education programming at NMI.

The story doesn’t end here, though. When I took on the current development of the NMI aquaculture programming, applying for a Town of Fairhaven aquaculture site for the school demonstration farm was a fundamental ingredient. Plus, aquaculture gear was another necessity. I inquired about the availability of the old Tabor oyster farm gear that I had utilized, and as a result, my former Tabor colleagues gifted the equipment to support my new NMI aquaculture outreach programming! As a thank you for this generous and useful gift, I grant (on behalf of NMI) ongoing aquaculture consultation for the Tabor community. After all, in the aquaculture community, one hand washes the other!

Click here to learn more about NMI’s Office of Restorative Aquaculture.

David Bill

Restorative Aquaculture Program Director
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