Getting Your Farm Started

Welcome and Introduction of Instructors 


This session provides information on site selection, seed purchasing and other start-up considerations, including gear selection and installation, planting strategies, start-up costs, risk factors, and business plan development.

Meet Your Instructors

Rusty Grice helps oyster farmers navigate requirements for starting farms. His focus is on making farmers be more successful as businesses. He also conducts an annual survey of existing farmers to study the economic impact of the industry in Alabama.

Auburn University Shellfish Lab

Scott Rikard manages Auburn University’s shellfish hatchery on Dauphin Island. He oversees both hatchery research activities and commercial production of seed for the oyster culture industry in the Gulf of Mexico. He brings an applied approach and practical experience to setting up and running a hatchery.

Auburn University Shellfish Lab


Andrew Ropicki is an assistant professor specializing in marine resource economics. His research interests include the economics of marine aquaculture, socioeconomic analysis of fisheries management and governance in Florida, and evaluating the economic impacts of marine industries.

University of Florida, Food and Resource Economics Dept.


Leslie Sturmer provides extension support to the molluscan shellfish industry in Florida. She conducts applied research in all phases of production management including genetic improvement, management strategies, and evaluation of alternative species for culture.

University of Florida/IFAS Shellfish Aquaculture Extension


John Supan for many years was a research professor at Louisiana State University (LSU) and director of LSU’s Sea Grant Oyster Hatchery in Grand Isle. Now retired, he co-owns and manages Navy Cove Oyster Company in Fort Morgan, Alabama, and operates Sea Farms Consulting.

Navy Cove Oyster Farm and Sea Farms Consulting


Bill Walton

Bill was professor, extension specialist, and director of Auburn University’s Shellfish Laboratory, where he was responsible for initiating an off-bottom oyster culture industry in Alabama and supporting industry development in other Gulf states. He currently is chair of the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences shellfish aquaculture program.

Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences


Huiping Yang

Huiping is an assistant professor and runs the molluscan shellfish aquaculture and restoration lab in Gainesville. She conducts research on selective breeding, triploid-tetraploid production, cryopreservation of germplasm preservation, and cytogenetics for molluscan shellfish species.

University of Florida, FFGS Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences


Mark Yarick was with the Florida Small Business Development Center for many years and assisted hundreds of clients with business planning resulting in millions of dollars of small business financing each year. Mark is presently active in agricultural business development.

The Small Business Development Centers offer consulting to people at all stages of business looking for information and assistance on business start-up, planning, marketing, access to capital, and financial management. Find your Center at America’s Small Business Development Centers