English’s visit oyster supplier Richard Haward
Earlier in the year a handful of our staff were lucky enough to join one of our oldest oyster suppliers out on the boat to experience what it takes to farm the oysters we dish up.
Richard Haward and his son Bram have supplied us with rock and native oysters for decades, fishing from West Mersea Island, one of Britain’s premier oyster cultivating areas. Richard’s been working on the water for most of his life, taking on the family tradition full-time after his father sadly passed away when he was 18. Bram is the 8th generation of the family to farm oysters, and is hoping that one of his five children will become the 9th Haward family member to carry on the business, which dates back to the 1700s. Five million oysters are raised each year, with each one taking 3-4 years to grow to the size for harvesting. We’ve dredged some that are ten years old before – the biggest we’ve ever seen! Next time you’re in the restaurant, ask to take a look.
In a world of instant results, oysters swim against that tide and are cultivated through patience, care and attention.
“We dredge the oysters from the River Blackwater and lay them on our own oyster beds, where they are given time to fatten and strengthen. Our oyster beds are tidal, thus as the tide comes in, so do rich nutrients from the marshland. The end result is a local oyster with wonderful flavour. The quality of the oysters we grow comes from learning from our history. Oysters were discovered by the Romans 2,000 years ago, and we started to cultivate them 300 years ago. We must respect they have been here a lot longer than us; therefore it is about producing something for us to enjoy, but it is also about understanding nature and ensuring we work in harmony with her.”
While we were out on the boat we picked up a cod end of oysters and tasted them fresh from the water, before returning to shore and eating locally caught oysters and seafood in Richard’s restaurant, Company Shed.
To find out more about all of English’s suppliers, including where we source our meat, bread and wine, visit the Our Suppliers page: https://www.englishs.co.uk/our-suppliers/