Juneau, Alaska (KINY) Meta Mesdag talked about the journey she has taken into creating an oyster farm in Juneau.
She said her family loves the outdoors and she wanted to create a business that her children could be a part of.
Her husband suggested mariculture, and she was hooked. She contacted the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to get started.
Salmon, eel grass, and eagles are well protected in Alaska and that impacted where she could start the business.
She was forced to travel many miles by boat to locations already approved by the state. She said at times it felt like looking for a needle in a haystack. She was unable to find a site that fit her and her lifestyle.
One site at Bridget Cove, already permitted by the state, became available. One-half acre is permitted for oysters and a half acre for geoduck is the largest burrowing clam in the world.
It is on the road system and convenient for her family.
With the help of generous people who provided their expertise, materials and even excavation equipment, she was able to set up the operation.
She also learned more about mariculture during a trip to Tokeen Bay on Prince of Wales Island. She visited with several farmers who work in the mariculture industry.
“Every farmer I met was super kind and willing to share everything with me, helping me to ease into this without the strife that they experienced.”
Her vision for a family business came true with the delivery of 30,000 oyster eggs. Her kids worked together as a team and assisted in helping the baby oysters.
“The more time we spent manhandling the oyster’s the better quality they turned out to be.”
It takes about two to three years for an oyster to grow to maturity where it can be sold.
They also have students from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the University of Alaska Southeast doing research and helping the operation.
They recently expanded into kelp production.
“The oysters are healthy and are thriving. There are growing in the dead of winter in Juneau.”
“What an incredible opportunity this has been for our family. I consider us very lucky. This was just an idea last February. Now it is actually happening.”
“It is about creating an opportunity for our kids. It is not easy. Things aren’t meant to be, we just let go. We laid an opportunity for our kids that teaches them something, how to work hard, and work together.”
The goal is to produce oysters by next February. She’d like to sell the products locally.
The Alaska Municipal League will be in town from Tuesday, February 19 to Thursday, February 21. Also in town next week is the Marijuana Control Board and Alcohol Control Board.
The Chamber will sponsor a seminar on common pitfalls every employer should avoid. Renea Saade, attorney and shareholder, of Littler Mendelson, is part of one of the largest law firms in the nation. The seminar is scheduled for Tuesday, March 5 from 9-11 a.m. at 360 Egan Drive.
Next week’s luncheon, on Thursday, February 28 is held at Centennial Hall as part of the Innovation Summit. Jim Johnsen, President of the University of Alaska, will be the featured speaker. The summit will also feature the Commissioner of Education Michael Johnson.
Juneau schools would lose $17 million, 27-percent of their state funding, and could lose 200 employees, under the proposed Governor’s budget.
“There is a lot at stake for our community,” School Board President Brian Holst said.
He emphasized that at this point it is just a proposal and far from a done deal.