I recently had the pleasure of spending a week in the company of Angelica and Antonia, who are from our Women’s Oyster Cooperative in Ostional, Nicaragua. I also met Yorlin Vargas, a Paso Pacifico ranger who works a lot with the cooperative. Before I met them at Carlsbad Aquafarm, they spent time on Catalina Island and with experts at USC Wrigley Insitute, where they learned about new oyster husbandry techniques in their lab and at sea.
The Carlsbad Aquafarm experience was definitely something new to me. I had visited their farm back in Ostional, but had superficial knowledge of how these women grew their oysters. Nothing hands on so far. In Carlsbad, Angelica, Antonia and I worked according to the farm’s regular schedule, advised by Thomas Grimm. It was great to participate in all the steps from collection to delivery (farm to table). We built baskets, sorted and cleaned oysters, cleaned farming ropes and analyzed growth at the site.
I have to say, it’s no easy task. Through all the sweat and body pain I was most thankful to see the happiness in these women’s faces to learn and interact with fellow workers with such relaxed yet focused attitude. They were amazed to understand where oyster farming can lead them. They were introduced to techniques they had never before seen.
At the end of our shift, we sat with Tom and two of his assistants to chat a bit and understand what lessons could be taken to Ostional. Angelica, the leader of the cooperative, was inspired to work harder on their project and eventually create a business sustainable for the environment and their pockets.
I miss being around their positive spirit and will definitely be following up on their progress back home.
Guest post by Felipe Farme D’Amoed
Top photo by Dave Anderson