Your Guide to the South’s Best Farmed Oysters

December 17, 2014 | By | Comments (9)

Once known for its seasonal abundance of wild oysters, the South now yields a fledgling bounty of farmed oysters meant for slurping fresh on the half shell. Here are a few of our favorite producers cultivating oysters from Virginia to Louisiana.


Photo: Hector Sanchez

1. Rappahannock River Oysters: Topping, Virginia
Cousins Ryan and Travis Croxton helped pioneer Chesapeake Bay oyster farming in the mid-aughts. Order Rappahannock’s sweet and buttery namesake oysters along with classic Stingrays and briny old Olde Salts from the website or taste them at the family’s acclaimed oyster bars and restaurants, including outposts in Washington D.C. and Richmond, Virginia.


Photo: Hector Sanchez

2. H.M. Terry & Sons Sewansecott Oyster: Willis Wharf, VA
Fourth generation oyster farmer Heather Lusk and her family grow some of the best oysters on the planet on the Eastern shore of Virginia. Firm, meaty Sewansecotts (say it three times fast) come on strong with bracing Atlantic Ocean saltiness and finish sweet and delicate. The clams are pristine, too.


Photo: Hector Sanchez

3. Potomac River Oyster Company: Lottsburg, Virginia
More sweet than briny, mild-tasting Potomac Whitecaps grow where the Potomac and Coan Rivers merge with the Chesapeake Bay.


Photo: Hector Sanchez

4. Pleasure House Oysters: Virginia Beach, Virginia
Wild oyster fans will appreciate the earthy, robust flavor of these Lynnhaven River bivalves. Their thick shells, long lips, and deep cups make them perfect for eating on the half shell.


Photo: Hector Sanchez

5. Bodie Island Oysters: Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina
Joey Daniels grows these beauties on the estuarine side of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore in northeast North Carolina. The oysters boast a strong shell structure, a pretty tear-drop shape, and firm meat that walks a perfect line between sweet and salty.


Photo: Hector Sanchez

6. Chadwick Creek Oysters: Bayboro, North Carolina
Former hedge funder Chris Matteo and his wife bought 110 acres of waterfront land with eight acres of deeded oyster bottom with no intention of getting into the oyster business. Now they grow delicate and mild-tasting Chadwick Creeks and sell them to high-end restaurants in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill region known as the Triangle via a dock-to-door distributor called Local Seafood.


Photo: Hector Sanchez

7. Caper’s Blades Oysters: Charleston, South Carolina
Clammer Dave, aka Dave Belanger, adopted a unique chiseling and purging process that transforms wild cluster oysters meant for roasting into delicate, blade-shaped single oysters perfect for slurping on the half shell. His long, skinny, medium-cupped oysters stand out among crowded trays of fresh shellfish at newfangled seafood temples like Charleston’s The Ordinary.


Photo: Hector Sanchez

8. Lady’s Island Oysters: Beaufort County, South Carolina
Former tough guy Marine Frank Roberts and his crew grow seriously gorgeous oysters with plump and juicy meat and delicate, medium-sized shell. Aficionados in the low country prize the Single Lady oyster for its balanced flavor and smooth, clean finish.


Photo: Hector Sanchez

9. Sapelo Sea Farms: Townsend, Georgia
Georgia shellfish pioneer Charlie Phillips is one of only a handful of farmers to cultivate clams and oysters in Georgia.


Photo: Hector Sanchez

10. Ossabaw Oyster Company: Midway, Georgia
Saline forward with a mellow finish, Ossabaw Oysters are the handiwork of Joe Maley, who operates south of Savannah.


Photo: Hector Sanchez

11. Sandy Bay Oyster Company: Sandy Bay and Fowl River Bay, Alabama
Grown by a fifth generation commercial fishing family who also run a shrimping outfit, Murder Point Oysters feature a distinct wide and rounded shell with a medium cup and flesh with a mild, almost buttery flavor.


Photo: Hector Sanchez

12. Point Aux Pin Oyster Farm:Grand Bay, Alabama
The Point Aux Pin is a steak lover’s oyster: firm, meaty, and rich with just enough brine.


Photo: Hector Sanchez

13. Caminada Bay Oyster Farm: Grand Isle, Louisiana
What happens when Jim Gossen, a seafood distributor and one of the Gulf’s premier seafood experts teams up with Jules Melancon, an old salt waterman who spent his career gathering wild oysters? Beautiful farmed green-gray oysters like Beauregard Island Oysters that eat earthy and vegetal with a bit of a wild streak.


  1. Wesley Equality Tyler

    Great read i love Bowens, and the See Wee on 17 i linked you in Baked Broiled Grilled Cheesy Buttery Oysters New Orleans Style

    November 3, 2015 at 12:14 am
  2. Baked Broiled Grilled Cheesy Buttery Oysters New Orleans Style | How to cook Southern

    […] Your Guide to the South’s Best Farmed Oysters […]

    November 3, 2015 at 12:10 am
  3. Gert Beach

    In your article you list the web address to order the oyster by state but when you go to the site you list nothing on how to order the oysters. This is not the first time you recommend a site to purchase something and when you go to the site, the item is not list to purchase. Please make it clear where and how to order items in your magazine.

    January 25, 2015 at 12:54 pm
  4. Chadwick Creek Oysters | Locals Seafood

    […] PRESS: CCO featured in NC Sea Grant’s COASTWATCH Magazine Your Guide to the South’s Best Farmed Oysters – Southern […]

    December 28, 2014 at 8:50 pm
  5. Sue Allen

    I can’t believe you left out the oysters harvested in the Apalachicola area, small and sweet with the right amount of brine.

    December 27, 2014 at 8:12 pm
  6. Bo Megginosn

    Alabama farmed oysters are becoming a real delicacy.

    December 21, 2014 at 10:44 pm
  7. Derek Turner

    You forgot Boss Oyster in Apalachicola,Florida I’ve been there 3 times the oysters come right out of the Bay and are always good

    December 21, 2014 at 9:02 am
  8. Jay Styron

    I’m just wondering, did you have a chance to try our oysters, Cedar Island Selects from NC?

    December 18, 2014 at 7:54 am
  9. Bill Walton

    Really gorgeous photography. Looking forward to the new wave of world class Southern oysters, and lucky to work with the farmers that produce these. See more at

    December 17, 2014 at 5:13 pm

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