From Plate to Reef: The Oyster Shell Recycling Effort Making Waves

Rooted Hospitality Group’s Oyster Shell Recycling Program: Creating Sustainable Habitats with Cornell Cooperative Extension

At Rooted Hospitality Group, we believe in more than just serving delicious meals; we are committed to sustainability and environmental stewardship. One of our most impactful initiatives is our oyster shell recycling program, carried out in conjunction with the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County. This program not only helps reduce waste but also contributes significantly to the health of our local marine ecosystems.

The Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Back to the Bays Initiative

Cornell Cooperative Extension Marine Program’s Back to the Bays initiative aims to enhance the health of Long Island’s waters through various shellfish restoration projects. The initiative focuses on creating sustainable oyster habitats by recycling oyster shells from local restaurants, caterers, and oyster growers. These shells are vital for the spat-on-shell oyster growing operation, which is expanding as the demand for shellfish projects grows across the region.

The Shelter Island Back to the Bays Shell Recycling Center, in partnership with Sylvester Manor Farm, plays a crucial role in this effort. Here, collected oyster shells are cured for 6-12 months before being used as a substrate for oyster larvae. These larvae attach to the recycled shells and eventually form three-dimensional reef structures in the bay, providing valuable habitat, improving water quality, and enhancing the local oyster population.

Rooted Hospitality Group’s Role in Shell Recycling

Our restaurants, Cowfish and Fauna, are proud participants in this essential recycling program. Cornell Cooperative Extension handles the pickups from both Cowfish and Fauna, transporting the collected shells back to Shelter Island. There, the shells undergo a curing process under the sun’s UV rays for a year before being reintroduced into the bay to foster new oyster habitats.

In the past year alone, Cowfish and Fauna have collectively recycled over 1,115 gallons of oyster shells, and still counting! This effort not only supports the local ecosystem but also reflects our commitment to sustainability. Notably, our group has been recognized for returning the cleanest shells, free from debris such as spoons or lemons, a testament to our meticulous attention to detail and dedication to the cause.

How You Can Get Involved

We encourage our patrons and community members to learn more about the Back to the Bays initiative and consider how they can contribute to these vital environmental efforts. For those interested visit to get involved.

By supporting our restaurants, you are also supporting a healthier, more sustainable marine environment. Together, we can make a difference, one oyster shell at a time.

Thank you for your ongoing support and commitment to sustainability. We look forward to continuing our efforts in partnership with Cornell Cooperative Extension and making a lasting positive impact on our local waters.

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