Kim Puystjens from oyster farm De Oesterput aan Spuikom: “Oyster farming with a heart for social issues”

Christmas is Ostendaise’s heyday, the oysters from the kindergarten De Oesterput aan de Spuikom. Then 50 to 60 tons of oysters are easily sold. But the highly regarded delicacy is obtained year-round in the company, which emerged as a social project. Kim Puystjens (33) follows in her parents’ footsteps, even though she does not like oysters herself.

Since the corona, De Oesterput has experienced a new influx of customers. “People could not go to a restaurant and wanted to pamper themselves in a different way. So they came to buy oysters, ”explains Kim. “That’s how many people discovered us, but afterwards they kept coming. Our oyster bar got a big boost after corona. You will be amazed at how far they come in buying our oysters. There are even people – without another home on the coast – who drive here, especially from Brussels. “

How long have you been involved in the business?

“From childhood. We had to. Other children have to set the table or empty the dishwasher, but we had to pack oysters. I also often helped during my studies. I studied to be a high school teacher and stood in front of a class for a year, but it was nothing. for me.I missed the dynamics of a business.It’s another world.I then told my parents that my contract would not be extended and asked if I could work for them.Actually lie I was allowed to stay in But that’s how I got started in the business. ”

What is your role in the company now?

“My parents still run the business, but I have my share (smiles† Each has its responsibility. It’s a well-oiled machine. I coach the people who make the cultivation and I am involved in the marketing of the product. ”

You have a nursery for the smallest oysters.

‘The seed comes from France, but that’s the way it is all over Europe. Yet oysters are different everywhere because their taste and shape are determined by the water and the breeding system. In our nursery, we monitor the oysters in their first six months to a year. We immediately grow them outdoors, in a pool in the pool, where they grow in cylinder. When they have grown enough, we put them in baskets. ”

“De Spuikom is a very good place for oyster farming”

How long does it take for an oyster to be ready for consumption?

“Assault is ready after two years, but on average it takes three to four years. Sunlight is a very important factor. Oysters, which lay at the bottom of the basket and did not get enough light, grow slowly. Oysters also need the salt water. If the salt content in Spuikom becomes too low, we ask that the lock gates be opened. ”

Your parents did not intend to start an oyster farm. How did it come about?

“It was necessary. The building used to be an oyster and shellfish business, but my father Jacky, a social worker by training, wanted to start a home for children with disabilities or a difficult home situation, a ‘backpack’. In the 1990s, the city would expropriate us for “to build a container park. A lawyer advised us to start with oyster farming because it is a ‘protected craft’. My parents started it in 1995 so as not to be expropriated.”

Why, protected vessel?

“Oyster farming has existed on our coast for more than 300 years. In belle époque there were 20 to 25 oyster farmers in Ostend and the surrounding area. Oyster farming has a rich history and is therefore protected. My dad sat down for it, went to see in France and England and then just tried it. With the bones on, along a couple of posts diget† Initially, it was not the intention to commercialize these oysters. “

Who is Kim Puystjens?

Private

Born in Ostend on November 5, 1988. Married to Benoît Delaere, three children aged eight, six and one year. Lives in Gistel.

Education and career

High school teacher, computer science and technology. Practiced that profession for a school year and then started working in the parents’ oyster farm De Oesterput at Spuikom in 2013.

spare time

“My menage† †laughs) And if we really have nothing to do, go to a restaurant or to our beach hut. ”

Was it a social project?

“Yes, in the beginning, oyster farming was a part-time social employment project. For years, we combined a social project with oysters. We are now a normal company, but still with a heart for the social. We have a youth center where sea education and camps take place. There is also a ballroom, an oyster bar, a b & b and a wellness area. We do not want to turn it into a factory, but we want to get the most out of the space. ”

Back to your oysters, because they are highly respected.

“Our Ostendaises has a very good reputation and that is because Spuikom is a very good place for oyster farming. Without Spuikom, De Oesterput would not exist. First of all, it’s in front of our door, but Spuikom is also very shallow. This is easy to work with, but it also allows sunlight to reach the bottom of the baskets and the bottom. Under the influence of sunlight, nutrition also enters the water, which gives the oysters very good chances of survival. ”

What is typical of the Ostendais?

“Our oysters are less salty than other oysters and have a thicker meat content due to the high amount of nutrients in the water. And you notice that. Our customers include many restaurants from Ostend, but also from the interior. Many Ostend restaurants choose Zeeland or French oysters. They can be a little cheaper and they can order them from their wholesaler. We think it’s a shame that they do not choose a product from their own city, but all respect for it. In recent years, we have seen great demand from the interior. Sometimes they are in a supermarket too, but it is always a consideration whether we do it or not. In any case, demand is rising and we are even considering expanding. ”

I read somewhere that one does not even like oysters.

laughs) “It is common knowledge. Oysters are right for you or you do not. I taste them if I really have to. But I can already now with the naked eye distinguish a good oyster from a less good oyster. ”

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