January 29, 2014

Drake's Bay Oyster -- I remember it as Johnson's

click photo for full-size image
photo by Donald Kinney

Years ago my parents were in town so we decided on a day at Point Reyes. Highlighted on the itinerary--Johnson's Oyster Farm.

I had cajoled with Mr. Johnson during previous visits. Johnson was old-as-dirt in the 1980's, and he was the second generation of Johnsons farming oysters here. A crustier guy you couldn't find--an oyster farmer, straight out of Central Casting. No frills at the oyster farm--not that it is particularly muddy, just crusty. No improvements seem to have been made in decades.

My parents had no inclination of purchasing oysters, but that didn't stop Mr. Johnson from trying. Finally he realized the Kinneys were gawkers and not buyers, so Mr. Johnson plucked an especially lively crab from a tank, placed it on the counter in front of my mother, quoted a price, and nearly scared her half-way to death...

click photo for full-size image
photo by Donald Kinney

The Lunny family, current owners of "Drake's Bay Oyster Company" are embroiled in a long and bitter legal fight with the Federal Government to remain where they are. The National Park Service wants them out so Drake's Bay can be restored to a more pristine condition.

The Park Service is unsympathetic and unmoved by the pleas of this family business. Farming oysters here goes back more than a century and damage oyster farming has caused is debatable, in my opinion. The Lunny family has lost every appeal to date in their fight to keep operating their farm.

Photographing Marin County - the exhibit and book   


Zoomie said...

It is my understanding that the Lunnys knew they only had a short lease on the farm when they bought it from Johnson, and that plans had already been made to close the oyster fishery and to return the estero to its original condition. So, while I have some sympathy for them, I also feel they knew what they were getting into.

Having said that, their oysters are delicious and I agree that their fishery does little damage to the ecosystem. If asked to vote, I'd say let them stay.

AphotoAday said...

Yes, ZOOMIE, I share your feelings, and I have heard good arguments on both sides. Really still don't know which side I am on, but I think the NPS has been a bit inconsistent and heavy-handed at times. One has to wonder if the dairy operations are also at risk--certainly they do their share of polluting. --I've still never forgiven them for cutting down all of the pines at the top of Hawk Hill--they said they needed to restore a habitat for the Mission Blue butterflies.

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