[EATYALL PODCAST #65] Lew Childre from Double D Oysters
Lew Childre’s expertise in the world of oysters budded early. An Alabama-born fisherman, he grew up fishing in muddy rivers and snacking on sea creatures. Even after becoming a full-time reliability engineer, his love for oysters and hard work led him to dive for product in the evenings and on weekends.
Lew and his best friend Doug worked serving other growers first, and learning from their wins and misses. They became experts on Lower Alabama’s Oyster game. They soon decided to apply for their own permit to grow oysters in 2013 near Dauphin Island in Alabama’s Gulf Coast.
Now the Gulf Coast’s largest shellfish aquaculture business, Double D Oysters has made a mighty reputation for itself around Mobile Bay by growing off-bottom oysters, supplying oyster seed (small oysters under the size of 25 mm long), and continuing to help other operations get proper gear. Their commercial oyster nursery sells to the Gulf Coast states, up the eastern seaboard, the Caribbean and even parts of Asia, and as the restaurant business picks up post-covid, Lew finds himself on the water daily.
What Makes a Successful Oyster Business
The aquatic environment of the south point of Sandy Bay in Alabama boasts near-ideal nutrients, thanks to the flow of the nearby Escatawpa River delta, and it's perfect mingling with the briny and highly oxygenated waters of the Gulf.
Lew’s company uses OysterGro grading and tracking gear in order to predict the ideal times to harvest the oysters. His ability to design and repair equipment has served as a huge advantage during this first decade of the business, and you can hear a There’s-a-Way-to-Fix-Everything conviction in his voice. We learned that he’s applied this sense of grit to more than his equipment; he’s found, and built, plenty of creative solutions on the business side, too.
Ecology and Sustainability
Did you know the oyster population helps filter and clean the waters of the Gulf? And, healthier water means copious fish, as a handful of savvy fishermen in the area have learned. Then there are the extra snow and blue crabs, baby shrimp, and other crops that oyster farming welcomes to the waters.
In the middle of a historic shift in the demographic of the area, with pricey homes being built all over the Gulf Coast, it’s reassuring to hear from a farmer who knows the area’s history and strives to farm with the long-term implications in mind.
Supply and Demand
In today’s episode, Andy asks Lew the question, “What prepared you to be a farmer?” We hear Lew’s wisdom stream out as he addresses all he’s learned over the years about protecting the growth process, material handling and supply, and the current market. Oysters are a tad more sparse right now, need is high, and yet he has to refrain from over-selling, so his customers won’t be lacking later.
Nearby restaurant chefs who care about serving authentic local taste source from Lew’s company religiously. Many of the residents are loyal to the brand as well, and ask for Double D Oysters by name. They get to enjoy some of the finest tasting oysters in the world, caught straight from the waters that make up their beautiful view.
Equipment designer and mechanic at Double D Oyster, Lew grew up with a family full of diverse farmers and a knack for fixing things. His current venture supplies local oysters - known for their perfectly brined taste - to restaurants and foodies all over Alabama’s sliver of the Gulf Coast.
Connect With Our Guests
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/doubledoysters
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