On The Water: Farming Oysters On The Georgia Coast

Jan 4, 2018

There's no future in crabbing.

That's the conclusion Earnest McIntosh, Sr. came to when his son, Ernest McIntosh, Jr. said he wanted to work with his father on the water near their home in Harris Neck, Ga., in McIntosh County. 

"I couldn't see a future into crabbing. But I could see it into oysters," McIntosh, Sr. said. 

That's farmed oysters. Earnest Sr. grew up watching his father work on a crab boat. Earnest Jr. did the same with his dad. Tending to metal cages of oysters spread around the marshland that they lease is what they are hoping will allow them to continue the tradition. 

Mashama Bailey is a fan. Bailey is the head, James Beard Award nominated chef at The Grey restaurant in Savannah. Harris Neck oysters are the first item on the online menu for the restaurant in face.

Mashama Bailey, center, is the executive chef at The Grey restaurant in Savannah. She buys Harris Neck oysters from the McIntoshes. In fact, they are the first item listed on the online menu for The Grey.
Credit Grant Blankenship / GPB

On a drive from Savannah to Florida, Bailey said she caught the odor of Harris Neck oysters on the wind. 

"They're marshy and funky but they're also clean and salty at the same time," Bailey said. 

In this short film, head out onto the water near Harris Neck where the oysters are farmed with Bailey and the McIntoshes.