With the number of farms, employees and revenue steadily increasing since the mid-1990s, no one can deny aquaculture is a growing industry in Rhode Island. According to the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council, in 2012 our aquaculture industry totaled over $2.8 million in revenue. Shellfish aquaculture is largely dominated by oysters with over 4.3 million pieces sold last year.
Perry Raso, owner of Matunuck Oyster Bar and Matunuck Oyster farm in Potter’s Pond, is a prime example of the growing aquaculture industry right here in Our Backyard. Perry began his venture in aquaculture digging and diving for shellfish during his summers as a junior high student. He studied aquaculture at the University of Rhode Island and in 2002 he received a state grant from Rhode Island Sea Grant to lease an acre in Potter’s Pond.
Today, Perry harvests oysters on seven acres in Potter’s Pond, ships oysters to consumers across the country, owns one of the most popular restaurants in South County and employs over 150 people. He has even gone a step further to fulfill the farm to table mission and grows a variety of vegetables on his farm down the road to be served at the restaurant and sold at local farmers markets.
Matunuck oysters and the Matunuck Oyster Bar are household names in Our Backyard. Outside of Rhode Island, people are still figuring how to pronounce the Native American term meaning “look out”. Perry explains further in the video below.
Matunuck Oyster Bar is now open year round for lunch and dinner. They also offer daily tours of the farm. More info here.