We’ve toured all kinds of farms: alpaca farms, berry farms, orchards, we’ve even dug up our own potatoes in a community garden. So, it only seemed appropriate that one of our last summer adventures would be to head out to Hummock Island Oyster Farm in Westport.
Now, I know what you may be thinking “what is a kid going to do on an oyster farm?” And, I understand. I had my hesitations too. I mean, I know my daughter isn’t going to eat an oyster. She holds her nose when we head to the beach in low tide because “it smells stinky”, and the very thought of her holding a shucking knife just terrified me. First of all, you should know that all visitors under 12 are free - so I signed us and some friends up and hoped for the best.
The tour meets at Elvira’s -- a popular market in the Westport Beach area. I will say, that parking can be a bit of a challenge. The Hummock Island website encourages its visitors to carpool or take a car service. We lucked out and secured a spot on the street, but I would definitely leave yourself plenty of extra time for parking. The website also encourages you to wear waterproof shoes - which is definitely something I would also encourage!
Hummock Island’s Oyster Farmer/Co-Owner, Jeff Northrop Sr., met our group at Elvira’s and guided us across the street to a picturesque New England cul-de-sac. We walked around the corner and saw a medium-sized wooden fishing boat ready to launch into the Sound. Once the kids were suited up in their life vests, we headed off!
Hummock Island itself is situated in Sherwood Millpond. I must have driven down Hillpoint Road hundreds of times, but I never noticed this little island in the middle of the pond. The ride over takes about 10 minutes. It was just enough time to spot some egrets and loons, and listen to Jeff tell us about this history of this pond and its oysters. Hummock Island Oysters owns all the oyster cages in this pond, which Jeff also pointed out. Before we knew it - our boat ride was over and we were on Hummock Island.
Hummock Island itself is small. It primarily consists of an historical house and a bunch of oyster equipment. My daughter immediately realized that the entire island was lined with -- oyster shells! She is a collector at heart, and absolutely loved scavenging around looking at all the different shapes and sizes of shells.
A beautiful shell at Hummock Island
After we were all off the boat, Jeff invited us to sit on the porch and listen to a bit of the history of this Island. Did you know that their oyster cages can hold 1,000 oysters a piece! The rest of the tour was rather free and relaxed. Jeff’s son - and co-founder- Jeff Jr., had a ton of oysters ready for us to try. All I have to say is - yum! These oysters are beyond fresh and absolutely delicious! With that said, we were free to explore the little island.
Sampling the local oysters
At first, I was a bit nervous. The island was only so big and I had no idea how I was going to fill up 90 minutes with two rather curious kids. These fears were quickly squashed with “IT’S A BLUE CRAB!” and “LOOK AT THOSE TEENY TINY FISHIES!” The kids (there were four children total on our tour) quickly realized that Sherwood Millpond was alive and thriving! Each time we finished slurping an oyster, we’d throw the shell in the water. Each time we threw a shell in the water, the blue crabs and minnows would devour it. Before I knew it, the kids were all lined up along the oyster bar begging Jeff Jr. to give them empty shells.
With the kids busy, my friend and I were able to enjoy a shucking lesson, and gobble up a few more oysters on our own.
Since this is a functioning oyster farm, there is also quite a bit of farming equipment- including the oyster tumbler. The kids all had a great time watching the machine clean oysters and separate them by size. They collected all the ones that were too small, and chucked them back into the pond.
Watching the Oyster Tumbler at Work
After that, Jeff Jr. had all the kids bait one of the oyster cages. I had one of those rare mom pride moments when my daughter suggested that all the kids should “work together as a team” to throw the cage into the pond.
And, just like that our tour of Hummock Island came to a close. Jeff Sr. called everyone back over to the boat, and we set course for the mainland.
Once we were back ashore, the kids looked a little sad to say goodbye to Hummock Island. They actually said things like “Mom. That was the best day ever!” and “Mom. I liked ALL of the parts of that activity! We got to see crabs. And oysters, and feed the fish. This was one of my best days EVER!”
This mom will definitely be suggesting “Oyster Camp” to Jeff next summer.