MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — For the last year and a half, Aaron Welch and employees with Two Docks Shellfish transformed a property in Rubonia that once operated as a service garage but in recent years turned into a dumping ground.
It took a lot of hard work and many trips to the local dump, but now the property is serving a new purpose.
“We think there’s an enormous amount of potential here for commercial farming as well as restoration work. That is a big, beautiful bay out there. There are a lot of spots we could raise oysters and clams and sun rays,” said Welch.
Inside what was once a garage is now a fully functioning shellfish hatchery. Congressman Vern Buchanan and Manatee County Commissioner Kevin Van Ostenbridge toured the property Wednesday morning.
“They took six dumpsters of tires out of here; it was sort of a makeshift landfill that the community had been utilizing for a long time without any permits, and they took the initiative. They knew that when they bought it. They bought this property and started to clean up and they are six figures into cleaning this property up,” said Commissioner Van Ostenbridge.
“They have come a long way in terms of what they are trying to do to turn this into a profitable business, but also because of the capability of what they are producing here. It will help clean up the bay and our region. It’s not going to clean everything up, but it’ll make a difference,” said Congressman Buchanan.
In addition to their tide-to-table commercial work, Two Docks Shellfish is also taking part in shellfish restoration efforts in the bay, plus red tide research with the University of Florida and Mote Marine Lab.
In the future, they see the volume of the work they’re doing significantly growing.
“We would like to produce tens of millions of animals a month. We would like to produce year-round – clams in the cold months, oysters in the warm months,” said Welch.