Teach Me: Clamming – The Martha’s Vineyard Times


What do Leonardo Da Vinci, Juana Inés de la Cruz, Zhang Heng, Donald Glover and Emma Watson have in common? They are mathematicians – Renaissance men and women, talented in fields of several disciplines such as astronomy, engineering, music and literature. “Teach Me” is a local series about a journalist’s quest for knowledge, skills and truth about the island of Martha’s Vineyard.

One of the best things about living on the island is that you can live it pretty much all over the place. Want that suburban nuclear family lifestyle? Made. Do you work on a humble farm and sell your wares at the farmer’s market? Of course, buy a pair of Blundstones first. How about luxury, bourgeoisie by the sea, paying-someone-to-check-the-thermostat-of-your-summer-villa-in-the-winter-months-a rich lifestyle? Absolutely – well, this one is a little harder to come by.

My favorite choice, however, is that if you really think about it and sprinkle a little common sense into it, you can essentially live off the bounty of the earth as a hermit.

I was thinking about all of this as I was on the mudflats with my colleague and friend Dave Plath, the extraordinary designer / production manager of The Times.

The first – and most important – step for those interested in clam is to obtain a shellfish aquaculture license from the city in which you will be harvesting. Each city is a little different, but go to their websites and find the shellfish aquaculture permits page. Dave and I were in Tisbury, so I went down to the natural resources building at the bottom of Owen Park and got a weeklong non-resident’s permit for $ 25. Tisbury is also offering $ 75 for a month and $ 400 for a year. Residents of Tisbury can get a permit for $ 40, and seniors in Tisbury only have to pay $ 5.

In addition to getting a permit, make sure you know where you can and where you can’t go to harvest seashells. There are many rules and regulations in place to make shellfish fishing sustainable and enjoyable for everyone. So don’t be the dummy who ruins everyone.

Fully legal, prepared and educated, I met clam master Dave on a sunny Friday and made my way to Tashmoo.

In terms of equipment, catching clams is quite easy. Dave brought plastic buckets, gloves, waders, hand shovels, and water shoes, but in the end we only used the buckets.

“Have a nice day at the office,” Dave said as we splashed around in the mud.

Dave has been catching clams since he was a child. He would come to the vineyard with his family and fall in love with being on the water to find food.

Once on the mudflats, just look for small holes in the mud and start digging. For a beginner, I dug slowly, making sure not to break any clams or open my hand. The soft clams, or vapors, will sometimes be near the surface or at depth, but you keep digging until you feel the top of the clam, then dig around it and pull it out.

And that’s all there was to it. A fairly easy way to get fresh food from the sea to the table.

Tashmoo was a great place to go because we harvested about half a bushel in just over an hour. Dave was a lot faster than me, so he picked up the majority of our clams, but in his words, I didn’t do “too bad”.

Dave and I then waded through higher water and used hand rakes to dig up hard shell clams, also known as clams. It took a little more effort, but it was just as fun.

After our harvest work, we returned to the Times office to share our bonus with some of our employees.

While I was enjoying my day in the sun – digging up my dinner with my bare hands – I’m not yet ready to give up my social life, but once I grow taller and my beard grows long and silvery, that will be life. hermit for me.


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