Shellfish lab in Auburn gets $35,000 through oyster social

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — The Alabama Oyster Social has raised $35,000 for a shellfish lab in Auburn.

The donation was given to the Auburn University Shellfish Laboratory in Dauphin Island during a recent event, the Opelika-Auburn News reported. The social brought out more than 600 attendees as many made their way through the line at a 32-foot bar, which included around five thousand raw oysters.

Chef David Bancroft says the response was the greatest “by far.” He said oyster farming has created the opportunity for year-round income for seasonal fishers and shrimpers through the lab and work of Bill Walton, associate professor and extension specialist at Auburn University.

“That might be able to keep some of them that otherwise might have gone out of business, it may put them in a position to stay in business,” Walton said.

Bancroft said fund have quadrupled since the event’s first year when they raised $8,000.

Community members, chefs and farmers gathered for the third year on Jan. 28 to celebrate and raise funds for the Alabama oyster community. Each farmer had a space at the bar, serving their harvest and allowing attendees to sample and compare different oysters.

Experts also drove and flew in for the event to sample the selections with six stations accompanying the raw bar. All money raised went to the shellfish lab.

Auburn University was recently denied renewal of its lease in Portersville Bay for the lab’s oyster farm park.

The lab is seeking permits at two new sites for relocation. Installation should begin in the next couple of weeks, allowing farmers to begin growing this spring.

“By having two locations we’re going to give farmers options about what site is best for them either for logistics or growing oysters, but also it’s going to give us more room. What this is going to let us do is not only help the farmers that were already there move, but it’s also going to give us room for new farmers to start,” Walton said.

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Information from: Opelika-Auburn News, http://www.oanow.com/

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