Patricia Campbell oyster restoration boat (CBF)
Patricia Campbell oyster restoration boat (CBF)

In Maryland, oysters are normally associated with the Chesapeake Bay. But, much closer to Baltimore, the Patapsco also once enjoyed a bumper of bivalve. Over the next five years, a pair of environmental groups are looking to resurrect the oyster habitat.

By 2020, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore want to plant five million new oysters. Oysters are already being raised in the Inner Harbor by volunteers who hang cages from various piers. The groups are predicting 150,000 spat can be planted each year from that crop once they have a chance to develop at an existing oyster reef in Fort Carroll.

Another 850,000 will require a bigger boat. A 60 ft. vessel known as the Patricia Campbell will carry oysters from the Foundation’s Oyster Restoration Center in Shady Side to the Patapsco.

Along with their potential for food, the oysters can help clean the river. Given the Baltimore harbor’s frequently dismal grades, that’s badly needed.

The groups are also stepping up oyster awareness with a festival this weekend at West Shore Park in Inner Harbor. The Saturday, Oct. 24, event will be the first edition of The Great Baltimore Oyster Festival. There will be education and music. And, of course, plenty of shucking and eating.

Stephen Babcock is the editor of Baltimore and an editor-at-large of Baltimore Fishbowl.