In Maine, oyster farming is a pearl of a business

Last Updated Aug 30, 2014 8:45 PM EDT

SCARBOROUGH, Maine - In Maine, this Labor Day weekend is the sweet spot for the producers and consumers of a delicacy that's experiencing something of a boom in popularity.

Abigail Carroll will be the first to tell you she got into oyster farming by accident.

"Let's just say it was a consulting project that went awry. But I wound up with the oyster farm on my hands. And I followed my father's advice, and cowboyed up. I bought a pair of waders and got my hands dirty," she said.

The Maine native started Nonesuch Oysters five years ago.

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Oysters are enjoying a boom in popularity.
CBS News

"We're part of a larger Maine movement but also a larger national movement where people really want to understand where their food is coming from. And the best way to do that is really to know your local farmer," she said.

Carroll gives oyster tours to teach tourists and locals about oysters. Before one lands on a bed of ice, it takes up to three years to nourish.

Not only do people love the taste, but oysters are good for the environment. One adult oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water a day.

In Maine, where the water is cold and clean, oysters are thriving. In 1997, there were four oyster farms with half a million oysters. In 2013, there were 65 farms with 12 million oysters.

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"We have a huge population that comes in the summer. And they all want to eat our oysters up here in Maine," Carroll said.

Carroll expects to harvest only about 50,000 oysters this year, but she's aiming for 200,000 next year.

If she succeeds, that will be good news for oyster lovers of all ages.

  • Chip Reid

    Chip Reid is CBS News' national correspondent.

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