GROTON, Conn. (WTNH) — The Groton community has stepped up to help long-time oyster farmers now struggling to keep their business afloat during the coronavirus shutdowns.
Jim Markow has operated Mystic Oysters in Groton for over 20 years. A seaman at heart, this is more than just a business to him. It’s a way of life.
But even out at sea, he can’t escape the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic.
“When we got the news that the restaurants were closing, all of our wholesale business just ended,” he explained.
His company harvests oysters from oyster beds in Fisher’s Island Sound and usually sells them to restaurants and suppliers throughout the country. Now, those sales have completely halted.
“The bottom line is we’re growing a product that we need to sell,” said Markow. “And we have only so much room on our grounds and we have continuing crops that are in production.”
Markow and his operations manager Marc Harrell still go out harvesting thousands of oysters a day. Even amidst the doubt and uncertainty, hope comes in the form of community support.
For the first time, they’re selling their product directly to consumers from their docks on Fridays from 12PM to 4PM and Saturdays from 9AM to 2PM.
Harrell says so far, customers have been thrilled.
“There’s been a lot of outpouring of support for us” he said. “I think people are really looking forward to getting something fresh from the farm, and we’re just trying to provide that service to people.”
While the future is uncertain, one thing is for sure. The guys of Mystic Oysters won’t stop doing what they love.
“We’re not going to stop doing what we do,” said Markow. “Even though we’re not generating enough money to support what we’re doing, we’re figuring out how to do it.”