The current partnership between the Tidewater Oyster Garners Association (TOGA) and Stratford Hall began in 2011 with a simple demonstration. TOGA a non-profit organization established in 1997 had been invited to participate at the annual Wine Festival.
TOGA booth display was very simple and captivating. Two side by side aquariums contained oysters. One of the aquariums was filled with muddy water, the other clear water and … with oysters. A TOGA person would periodically lift oysters out of the clear water and place them in the muddy. In less than half an hour, the water was clear. A basic straight forward demonstration of what TOGA is about.
Oysters and oyster reefs once were synonymous with the Chesapeake Bay. Overfishing, pollution and urbanization nearly brought the oyster to extinction in the wild. Through the work of many environmental organizations, public education, and in no small part, to the efforts of TOGA, the mollusk is making a strong return!
This year marks the third year of Stratford Hall’s relationship with TOGA and has seen the benefits of this positive partnership. The Upcoming 8th annual Wine and Oyster Festival will feature 5 of the most outstanding oyster growers in Virginia offering the range of tastes and recipe offerings.
Plan to visit September 20th or 21st and enjoy the distinctive merrior* of the varying flavors of oysters, daily educational programs, cooking demonstrations, oyster shucking demonstrations, oyster gardening and industry updates, and of course wine tasting education. See you at the festival!
-Jon Bachman, Public Events Manager
*the unique taste of oysters which is the result the environment in which they grow.