Updated: Jun 4, 2020
Not all of our members may be aware that the Southampton History Museum makes part of its land at the Conscience Point Historic Site and Nature Walk available to the Conscience Point Shellfish Hatchery (CPSH), a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing our town’s rich maritime history with modern practices of sustainable aquaculture and ecological stewardship of town waters.
Founded in 2013 and staffed by volunteers and part-time workers, the Conscience Point Shellfish Hatchery grows shellfish (primarily oysters) and sells them to distributors, local restaurants, and, through their CSA (Community Supported Aquaculture) Program, directly to consumers. Since its founding, the CPSH has supported efforts of the Southampton Town Trustees by donating thousands of oysters to the Trustees. They also offer various opportunities to learn about shellfish aquaculture and how CPS contributes to healthier waters, including tours for organized groups and CSA members, and experiences to “learn-by-doing” for volunteers.
CSA subscribers pay a membership fee to the hatchery up front in exchange for regular shares of produce—in this case, delicious oysters! Given the challenges our community faces due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they are putting additional emphasis on their CSA program this year, and have expanded their offering to include three levels of membership:
GOLD – 300 oysters for $300
SILVER – 200 oysters for $230
BRONZE – 100 oysters for $130
The oysters are available every week beginning the last Saturday in May and continuing through the first Saturday in November. By Wednesday of any week, you let them know how many you want and what time Saturday morning you would like to pick them up. Then on Saturday between 9 and 12 you pick them up at the Hatchery with minimal contact. And while you are there you can take a few extra minutes and enjoy our Conscience Point Nature Walk!
By participating in the Conscience Point Shellfish Hatchery CSA Program, you are helping them achieve their missions of restoring our local shellfish population, improving water quality, and promoting aquaculture. You can “Eat Well and Do Good” at the same time!
If you’re interested in subscribing, you can enroll in their program by clicking here: https://consciencepointshellfish.org/csa/
Membership benefits also include a tour of their facility and oyster field for 2 - 4 people, at which time you can learn about their operations and the benefits of aquaculture. They will begin hosting tours once social distancing restrictions have been removed.
In the meantime, you can take a brief virtual tour of their facility plus view some photos of their operations.
Virtual Tour of the Conscience Point Shellfish Hatchery
Their oysters and clams are used to seed local bays, restore shellfish populations, and improve water quality. Last year they donated 50,000 oysters and 70,000 clams to the Town Trustees, distributing them into the waters of North Sea Harbor and Shinnecock Bay. In previous years they have been placed in other town waters, including Sag Harbor, Reeves Bay, Cold Spring Pond, and Moriches Bay.
As you probably know, excess nitrogen due to fertilizers, storm water runoff, and septic system discharge is a major problem within the Peconic Estuary System. But what you probably don’t know is that a mature oyster is capable of filtering up to 50 gallons of water per day, by consuming plankton which eventually is denitrified by bacteria and the resulting harmless nitrogen gas released into the atmosphere. The Conscience Point Shellfish Hatchery estimates that the oysters and clams they have grown have helped clean billions of gallons of water since 2013.
If you are interested in learning more about their operation, in improving our water quality, or just in eating delicious oysters, please consider joining their CSA program—Eat Well and Do Good!