Tell us a little bit about yourself. What is your background and how did you learn about using shell for landscaping?

I was born and raised in Capetown, a beautiful seaside destination in South Africa where the beauty of nature was always an extension of my family home. After receiving a degree in Marine Biology at the University of Washington in Seattle I moved to New England for graduate school. It was there that I came to love the classic Cape Cod look of crushed seashell used on driveways and walkways.

When did you realize there was a business opportunity?

When COVID hit, it prevented me from traveling and consulting in fisheries around the globe. I spent the summer renovating our property on Bainbridge Island and wanted to incorporate oyster shell in our landscape design. I was unable to source any shell locally so seized the opportunity to use my knowledge and relationship with local oyster farms to source and supply oyster shell to the Pacific NW.

Why do oyster farms have excess shell, don’t they put it back in the bays?

When restaurants began demanding oysters in the half shell, many farms moved from filling mesh bags with their discarded shell - which they placed in the bays where oyster larvae could grow - to raising oysters in hatcheries to cater for the live market. This prevents the oysters from cementing to each other and allows them to grow individually. Many of these farms are now looking to reduce, recycle and reuse their discarded shells.

Why do your customers choose to create landscapes using crushed oyster shell?

Crushed oyster shell is natural, beautiful, functional, and connects us to the ocean. The product can be used in areas where you would normally apply gravel, concrete, pavers or small stone - including courtyards, pathways, and driveways.

Are there other environmental benefits to using crushed oyster shell?

Our sustainably harvested oyster shell provides excellent drainage, its porous quality allows rainwater to permeate into the ground. It also acts as a natural fertilizer enriching the soil with naturally occurring calcium carbonate found in the oyster shells helping to neutralize acidic soils. Oyster shell also keeps away garden pests including moles and slugs, and at the same time minimize weed growth.

Is there a history to oyster farming and the use of oyster shell for landscaping in the Pacific Northwest?

Oyster farming is iconic to the Pacific Northwest. Native Americans harvested oysters for thousands of years. They used shells on paths to provide permeable and sturdy passageways Commercial oyster farming in the Puget Sound began in the mid1800s; it is now one of the largest producing areas in the U.S.

Does oyster shell smell and is it sharp on your feet?

The shells are washed thoroughly and dried out over several seasons so there is no smell. Oyster shell ‘s shale like quality means it flakes after being crushed down. Once it has been compacted for path or walkways it is solid, stable and comfortable to walk on.

Is there ongoing maintenance with oyster on shell paths and driveways?

Shell paths and driveways are virtually maintenance free. It doesn’t develop ruts and holes like gravel as it will fill in on itself as the shell breaks down. With proper installation and compaction it will only require periodic replenishment.

Are you optimistic about introducing oyster shell back into the landcapes of the Pacific Northwest?

Absolutely. We are very excited to work with local and sustainable oyster farms so that we can re-introduce this beautiful material back into the design and aesthetic of the Pacific Northwest, in much the same way it has become synonymous with the landscapes of Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket and Cape Cod.