The story of our farm began in 2003 with a fearless leader, engineer, and innovator named Big O. He believed in oysters. He believed they could become again a sustainable resource and would greatly improve the cleanliness and ecology of our Great Salt Pond. He created Sun farm to demonstrate that Block Island’s economy did not have to be so tightly tied to tourism and worked selflessly to make it an example for strengthening rural economies by creating as many year-round jobs as possible. Hiring many local luminaries, the likes of Sharkbait, Fog Horn, White Wave, Barnacle, and Flip Flop, Big O’s biggest joy was in watching the oysters grow.
Having no access to shore power, Big O lessened another problem by designing an off-grid renewable energy system, thus the name Sun Farm. Many of Big O’s methods are still used on the farm today. We harness the power of the sun by plugging into a solar energy source, and the sun’s rays do the work of eradicating biofoul that collects on the farm’s floating gear.
The transfer of ownership to an employee at the end of 2022 after twenty years in operation, is a testament to the farm’s success. Known formerly by catchy slogans: “it’s okay to be a little shellfish” and “it takes a bitter farmer to raise a salty oyster”, GSP oysters are still as briny but a lot less bitter!
Sadie Flateman’s (AKA Seaweed’s) love of Block Island and oysters brought her to the farm in 2018. Sun farm became her anchor and what followed could not have been imagined. As the new owner of the farm, she continues the goals set forth by Big O and embraces the ethos that we are stewards of the Great Salt Pond. It is good work that nourishes the soul.
In the spirit of independence handed down by the residents of the island, GSP Oyster Co. holds a vision to revive Block Island’s saltwater foodways and eating within the ecosystem. We believe that our food choices matter. We strive to produce the best product we can and building community in the work that we do.
We are active in building oyster reef sanctuaries. The first one began construction in 2009. It has grown to such a size that it can be seen using satellite imagery. Overseen by Rhode Island’s Department of Environmental Management and the Natural Resources Conservation Service of the US Department of Agriculture, our reef shows it’s growing and has some of the best biological characteristics in the State! Oyster reefs are an innovative method to improve water quality, provide for species diversity and offer a fascinating insight into how nature builds and creates environments. We also recycle oyster shell from our customers and farm, redistributing it to our oyster reef sanctuary in the Great Salt Pond.