Updated May 12
An unnamed benefactor has bought up oysters from across the Vineyard to aid aquaculturists struggling with depressed commerce from the pandemic. The oysters will be given away at the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society Saturday, according to West Tisbury health agent Omar Johnson, who outlined the giveaway to the board of health Thursday night.
“The plan is to have this giveaway at the Ag Hall,” Johnson said. “The oysters will be brought in a refrigerated truck … bags of  will be given away free to anyone who would like to get a bag of these oysters.”
Johnson told the board he supported the project, but he would condition it on the requirement that all oysters be tagged, and that anyone collecting a bag of oysters come with a cooler filled with ice. Ice is a requirement to hedge against the oysters spoiling, which could result in the development of bacteria like Vibrio parahaemolyticus.
Agricultural Society executive director Kristina West said it will be a drive-through event, and is scheduled for Saturday, May 16, at 11 am on a first-come, first-served basis.
Aquaculturist Roy Scheffer, who runs Roysters in Katama, said he was tapped to sell 1,000 oysters. He said it was “great” to make the sale in the current economy. Isaiah Scheffer, Chilmark shellfish constable and Roy’s son, said his brothers Noah and Jeremy, who run Little Minnow and Spearpoint Oysters respectively, are also participating in the giveaway.
“We’ve got some really generous people on the Island,” Isaiah Scheffer said.
Johnson informed his board more details about the giveaway will emerge shortly. The board took the event under advisement.
Updated to give time. -ed.