Erik and Andrea Anderson greet us like old friends as we walk onto their dock stretching out into Westcott Bay off San Juan Island in Washington. As at any family-run farm, their hands-on approach is obvious at first glance. Andrea sets down her pressure washer and takes a break from the farm chores with Erik to show us around.
The clouds hang low and the stormy sky begins to gently rain.
The shellfish farm nestles in a vibrant green nook tucked inside Westcott Bay — an ideal location for shellfish growth, with a nearby creek flowing into the bay freshening the water and helping algae thrive.
Andrea and Erik’s passion for their unique natural resource is infectious. Walking us through the process of hand-raising oysters, mussels and clams in their tidelands, both speak with great pride and respect for the sustainable operation they’ve sunk so much heart into.
After purchasing the neglected historical farm in 2013 (at the time called Westcott Bay Seafarms), they’ve nursed the shoreline back to health, rebuilding the 400-foot-long pier, docking floats and restoring the farm’s declining infrastructure. They’ve breathed new life into the place by replanting the oyster crop, clam beds and mussel nets.
The Andersons have even found creative ways to keep the farm alive and bustling by building their own retail space and Net Shed, rented out for small events on their five acres. This supplements the open waterfront that brings in folks from near and far to purchase/sample their shellfish and sit at their picnic tables shucking oysters all summer.
Erik grills us oysters while Andrea shows us the ideal way to shuck them. With homemade specialty sauces, each hand-picked plump and sweet shellfish is slurped. We sit under their covered porch as the rain starts to come down and soaks in all of the intention, hard work and joy that oozes out of the coastal hideaway.
Photography and Story by Camrin Dengel