First Light Oysters, grown by the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, Mashpee, Massachusetts
Given that Wampanoag means “People of the First Light”, we call our oysters “First Light” after the Tribe’s name. Our shellfish farm has been in operation since 2009, proudly growing oysters in Popponesset Bay, Mashpee on Cape Cod. We cultivate premier oysters for the half-shell market, honoring the cultural history of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Members who depended upon shellfish, fish and wildlife for sustenance over four millennia. With acres of conservation land rimming the Bay, our oysters reflect the clean, distinct taste of the sea, unique to our area.
Initiated by the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s Popponesset Bay Restoration Project which was funded by the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service Tribal Wildlife Grant Program for two years, one of the primary goals of our farm is to grow oysters to improve the water quality in Popponesset Bay. Like many bays in New England, Popponesset Bay receives excessive amounts of nutrients from groundwater and surface runoff; and this leads to imbalance in the bay’s ecosystem. According to Dr. Hauke Kite-Powell of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, in the right settings, “shellfish are by far the most cost-effective strategy to control excess nutrients in coastal waters.” All shellfish filter impressive volumes of water, with each oyster clearing about 25 gallons of seawater a day. We know that by maintaining a healthy and vigorous oyster population on our farm, we are improving the local environment, which has been recognized by the local officials and many of our neighbors.
To sustain this effort, the sale of our oysters contributes to fund the labor-intensive work in the field and at our shop, providing jobs for Tribal Members. The Mashpee Wampanoag have had a long tradition of living off of the land and sea. It’s a natural fit to farm the subtidal lands of our permitted aquaculture leases from the Town of Mashpee.
Our First Light Oysters are harvested from waters that are ensured for public safety through a regime of regular testing by the state’s Division of Marine Fisheries. Responses like, “… 2 thumbs up for appearance, quality, and taste. Spectacular!” are what we hear from our customers. Our oysters have caught the attention of chefs and customers with discerning palates, typically looking for more. We sell our oysters to permitted wholesalers who then sell our oysters to choice seafood markets. Our First Light Oysters are the pride of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, bringing the taste of Mashpee to the table and a bright future to the People of the First Light.
Office Location: 213 Sampson’s Mill Road, Mashpee, MA
Mailing Address: 483 Great Neck Road South, Mashpee, MA 02649