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winter is coming

Summer is over

I am writing on a brisk Shetland autumn day, which anyone might mistake for a full-blown winter’s gale in more southerly climates.  As often as not up here, the weather snaps from summer to winter in one fell swoop and the summer seems very much behind us now.   Despite southern parts of Britain getting a final flourish of heat, we seem to be lined up for several weeks of gales and cool temperatures of 7 degrees or below.  So, I’m calling it - summer is over.

Unique shellfish

It is however the cold temperatures and cold sea water that make our shellfish unique.  So, getting into this part of the season has its benefits and it is one of the best times of the year for the mussels themselves. They have just had a long summer of warm days, plenty of plankton to eat to build up their meats and followed by the current cooler conditions for harvesting mean they should be getting to market in top condition right now.

winter is coming

Visitors

Despite the cooler conditions, we have had a few visitors to the sites lately with the first being the board of Food Standards Scotland making the trip north to find out more about how we farm.  We discussed their sampling programme and how that works to classify our areas and ensure plankton blooms over the summer cannot cause the shellfish to become unsafe to eat.  We also talked about the extra work and testing we do on every harvest, to make sure all the shellfish we harvest are safely farmed and sustainable.  It was a really useful day and was great they made the effort to come up and see us.

winter is coming

Fresh mussels for the Chefs

The following week we had a delegation from Seafood Scotland, who had invited a group of Chefs up from the UK Mainland to also get the chance to see what we do.  We were able to show them the farms and also the factory where Scottish Shellfish boxes up the mussels for the wholesale markets.  They were keen to get their hands on some shells and take them up to the local award-winning restaurant Frankie’s and try their own recipes with product still dripping with seawater.  They too seemed to enjoy the visit and hopefully went back fully inspired to use our shellfish in their daily menus.

winter is coming

Autumn harvesting

Moving through autumn we expect to mainly be harvesting, getting the sites battened down for the rest of the winter and planning for next year’s spring spat input.  You can follow Shetland Mussels on twitter for more regular updates of farm happenings @ShetlandMussels

family business

Family Business

Gordon Turnbull farms with his father Nick (who has decided to retire and hand over the reins) on the North West of the Island of Mull.  The family home is on the site of the pacific oyster farm and it can sustain 3 million oysters at various stages of growth.

Education

Gordon has an MSC in Marine Resource Management and has driven the business into the 21stcentury. This qualification has given him the knowledge and ability to protect our coasts and oceans while oyster farming.  But also managing environmental, socio-cultural and institutional resources.

Oyster Demand

The family oyster farm was established in 1990, when demand wasn’t too high for oysters. It now produces in excess of half a million oysters each year! Gordon came on board in the family business in 2010, with the aim to continue to grow high quality oysters to meet the growing demand.

Family Businesses!

Kenny, who is Gordon’s younger brother, has diversified to create his own business fishing lobster, crab and prawns. Gordon (and until recently, Nick) has focused purely on the growing, management and production of oysters. They are always trialling new growing techniques from around the world, with the intention to produce the finest oyster possible.

Quote

Our produce is the best and most sustainable because of a combination of hard work, nutrient rich and clean environment that the oysters grow in and the traditional trestle and bag system we use. We have a proud tradition and have some of the healthiest and most productive waters in the world, which makes Scottish shellfish the best”.