• Season 4 | Episode 8 | Catherine Puckett | The Oyster Wench of Block Island

October 21, 2019 1 Comment

Catherine Puckett is a first-generation FarmHer on Block Island.  Catherine grew up in a family that made their lives on the water. They came to block island in the summers and her parents eventually started a business here running charter sailboats.  In the winters they lived in Florida. She fell in love with the island and made her home here. Eighteen years ago she started working for an oyster grower, learning the trade. Five years ago she purchased the farm from him and today, she spends her days on the water, doing what she loves, being on the water. 

As a single mother of two young children, running this business allows her the flexibility she needs. She grows oysters on two sites, one for the younger ones and another for the more mature ones. The oysters are mature after 18 months. She puts them into cages as tiny seeds and then spends her days checking, sorting and protecting from predators.  Then, when the summer season rolls around and the tourists roll in by the thousands, she starts harvesting. She can only harvest at low tide, which happens twice a day. She typically loads up her 3 and 5-year-old mermaid squad and they head out for harvest.

On the day I met Catherine, she was already at the dock, getting her signature turquoise and pink boat ready to head out.  We climbed on the boat and slowly drove out, first stopping quickly at the smaller oyster sight, then making our way out to the mature oyster site.  I realized when we were there that the buoys were pink too and when asking her about why, she said, so everyone knows they are hers since she is the only woman growing oysters!  Makes sense! From there we drove out to the Coast Guard site which is right where the ocean meets the salt pond and she put on her waders and jumped in.

Once she was in the water she started pulling up the heavy cages and pulling out the bags of oysters inside.  She checked to make sure there were no predators and then started putting the bags with the biggest oysters up on the boat. She then opened up the bags and selected the ones she needed for the order and got back into the water to close up the cages.

By then the weather had shifted - something normal for the island climate and it was time to head back.  She also needed to deliver the oysters to Deadeye Dicks, a popular restaurant just feet away from the dock. Once at the restaurant I couldn’t pass up the chance to sit out on the gently rolling lawn and enjoy some of Catherine’s fresh catch. She gave me a few pointers on how to eat them and before I knew it, the entire plate was gone. They were the freshest tasting oysters I could ever imagine!

My day spent with Catherine on her boat in the Great Salt Pond off Block Islands Coast did not disappoint.  From her sunny disposition and clear love for her life and career there to finishing up with a delicious treat of fresh oysters, I can’t imagine a more perfect #FarmHer day on an island!

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October 24, 2019


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