By Megan Voo
In the seven years since it opened its doors, the Oyster Farm Shop has built a reputation as a producer of fresh, sustainable seafood and quality aquaculture.
Bought by Ken and Amanda Rowe in 2008, Kangaroo Island Shellfish is now the largest commercial oyster farm on KI, supplying the Oyster Farm Shop with its premium local oysters. The Pacific and Angasi oysters are farmed in the cool, pristine waters of the Eastern Cove near the American River, and the oysters are then taken to the processing sheds located on the American River wharf.
The Oyster Farm Shop, as the farm gate, looks over the oyster leases on the water. Visitors can watch the crew bring in fresh oysters ready for sale, then enjoy freshly shucked oysters in store.
Along with the benefits of the freshness of the oysters, came the risks associated with being a business that supplies mainly fresh produce. In an endeavour to create a solution for shipping products off the island, they applied for and won a grant from Primary Industries and Regions South Australia (PIRSA). The Advanced Food Manufacturing Grant allowed Kangaroo Island Shellfish to embark on a project where they extended research into the freezing of oysters whilst keeping their freshness and flavour.
Part-owner Amanda Rowe says that by freezing they were able to stockpile the product and ship it off the island, allowing other regions to retail their unique fresh seafood.
“Frozen seafood is a growing market and oysters are not currently represented,” Amanda says. “We worked with SARDI food technologists to come up with a process that would enable us to freeze oysters whilst maintaining the quality and texture of fresh oysters. The outcome of this research was our SnapTop oysters, which are snap frozen, and pre-topped in a range of four flavours.” The flavours are coconut Thai, Mediterranean (using Kangaroo Island pure feta cheese), Kilpatrick (using their house-made sauce and KI double smoked bacon), and red Thai.
“We have turned it into a year-round business model by introducing spawnless Pacific Oysters into the farm, a fresh product which we can sell through the summer. Combining this with our new SnapTop product that is available all year, we are able to provide a year-round offering, retaining core staff and reducing training costs while keeping locals employed.”
The business is expanding to stockists in the Fleurieu Peninsula region, in an effort to make Kangaroo Island aquaculture and sustainable seafood more readily available and represented outside the Island.
You’ll find Amanda and her team at their regular stall at the Willunga Farmers Markets on Saturday mornings, and the Oyster Farm Shop on the American River, Kangaroo Island is open from 11am-3pm, 7 days a week, all year long.
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