An estimated sixty-five percent of seafood consumption in the United States, by expenditure, occurs in restaurants (Love et al. 2020). However, the the restaurant sector has been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated public health and social protections. By mid-March 2020 most restaurants were closed to eat-in dining. The loss of this sector therefore has meant that seafood producers and distributors across the country have needed to identify alternative pathways to move product to consumers. One way they are doing this is by pivoting to local and direct distribution models (Smith, et al. 2020, Stoll et al. 2020).
This brief focuses on local and statelevel Oyster Trails and the emergence of Pick-Your-Own and U-Pick opportunities at oyster farmers during the pandemic. Pick-Your-Own and UPick farms have existed in the broader agricultural sector for decades. However, COVID-19 has made them particular popular because they provide a mode of outdoor recreation and agritourism (Danovich 2020).
Fishermen and shellfish growers around the country pivoted to local and direct-to-consumer sales during the early months of the pandemic. The emergence of U-Pick oyster farmers represents a novel mode of direct-toconsumer sales and an opportunity to strengthen the local food system through a form of agritourism. We provide an overview of the existing Oyster Trails in the US and discusses key considerations for farmers, managers, and tourism groups who may be interested in establishing and/ or further strengthening U-Pick operations.