Eat a ‘Peconic Pearl,’ help the Peconic Land Trust

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Karen Rivara holds several Peconic Pearl oysters at the hatchery in Southold on Monday. Behind her are the growing tubes where the algae to feed the oysters is cultivated.

This spring, shellfish lovers will have a unique new way to savor Peconic Bay oysters and promote the conservation work of the Peconic Land Trust.

Karen Rivara, who runs the Aeros Cultured Oyster Company at the trust’s Shellfisher Preserve in Southold, has recently trademarked “Peconic Pearl” oysters, grown by her company and three other Long Island shellfish farmers who belong to the Connecticut-based Noank Aquaculture Cooperative.

Fifteen percent of the proceeds from the oysters sold under that trademark will be donated to the land trust to promote its education initiatives at Shellfisher Preserve and other conservation programs.

Though this donation means that the oysters will be sold at a higher price than most on the market, Ms. Rivara hopes consumers will seek them out to support the land trust’s work.

“When a consumer goes to a restaurant or a seafood shop, we want to try to educate them that the money’s going to be going to a program to benefit the bay, stewardship programs, land preservation programs, anything to help improve water quality,” she said.

The oysters will be available beginning Jan. 20 at the Grand Central Oyster Bar at Grand Central Station in New York and will likely be available this spring at Alice’s Seafood Market in Greenport, as well as at winery events, community-supported agriculture farms and, Ms. Rivara hopes, Sang Lee Farms in Peconic.

“The Grand Central Oyster Bar is a place where everybody” who produces oysters “wants to get their oysters on the menu,” said Ms. Rivara. “It’s a good place to get your brand out there.”

The Grand Central Oyster Bar will unveil the Peconic Pearls at a tasting on the afternoon of January 20. The event is open to the public by RSVPing to [email protected]

Ms. Rivara said that the trademark for the oysters, all grown in the Peconic Bay system, took 18 months of paperwork to establish. Soon after, she and the other oyster farmers began raising large quantities of the newly branded shellfish for market.
“It takes almost two years to raise an oyster,” she said. “I have about 10,000. I’ve been selling them in little bits here and there, but we’re just now starting the program in earnest.”

She has started a website,, where updates on educational programs and tours of the preserve can be found, as well as a Facebook page called “Peconic Pearls.”

[email protected]