Early in the decade of my 40's, I recall that my father and I were casually together enjoying a game of golf. We spent a lot of time together. He was now in his early 70's, and though fit and active, it seemed to me that he was becoming a little less so with each passing year. In an idle moment, I voiced a relaxed remark that I had noticed that he seemed to no longer be pursuing his lifelong passion of lawn and garden activities. In fact, his passionate planting and grooming of the numerous trees that were such a vital part of his landscaping activities was now seemingly a thing of the past.
Regarding the dearth of new tree saplings on his acreage, he responded to my question with a long pause at the end of which he offered that perhaps the reason why he no longer planted trees as he had throughout his life, could be related to the realization that he probably would not be around to enjoy the benefits provided by their shade. I had no reply. Rather, I simply thought it to be a rather sad admission of the inevitable tide of human time.
Later that evening, when alone with my own thoughts, pondering the accidental gravity of the Q&A that afternoon with my dad, I fixed it in my head that unlike the position that he had declared with regard to investing in the future, I would resolutely "plant trees" as long as I could lift a shovel of dirt. And, I would be doing so for those coming behind me, that they might be able to enjoy the respite of the shade created by my efforts.
Thus it is for those of us who labor in industries that we hope will lay a pathway for a better earth for future generations. OYSTER AQUACULTURE has all of the hallmarks of such an industry.
Part of the foundation of a healthy inter-tidal ecosystem, colonies of oysters filter the waters of our bays and inlets throughout Florida. The collapse of otherwise healthy oyster bars leads directly to the degradation of the entire water column. Eroding marshes and mudflats devoid of healthy beds of oysters are leaving shorelines exposed and receding. The collective legacy of seawalls, revetments and jetties is to alter the natural coastal landscape and forever change the balance of nature in coastal areas.
Oyster aquaculturists should be very attuned to nature's way of getting business done. We should be aiding nature by planting a certain percentage of our farms with the natural oyster - the DIPLOID oyster. The diploid oyster will spawn with the climate cycles and cast millions of spat into the water column. We should be assisting the wild oyster beds by allowing our own farms to be a part of the natural processes. We should be assisting coastal fish species by providing cover and habitat with our structures. We should be cleaning up after ourselves when gear breaks away in heavy weather and comes ashore on beaches or in the marshes that adjoin our farms. And, we should be always speaking to groups of interested individuals about our industry and the future of our waters.
Florida has nothing, if it does not have clean coastal water. In a future blog, I intend to take a deeper dive regarding how we fit twenty million people (or more) into our State and somehow keep from perpetually fouling the waters from which we all derive pleasure and sustenance. It will not be easy, and it will not be cheap. But, for the sake of our future residents, for the sake of our children and grandchildren, we must do a lot of things differently in the future than we have in the past.
Let us resolve to plant trees so that those coming behind us can enjoy the shade. Let us plant trees right up to the point in life when we can no longer physically lift a shovel of Florida’s beautiful sandy soil. We don't plants trees for our own comfort and wellbeing, we plant trees for those who come behind us.