Behind the Mask: Sue Wicks of Violet Cove Oyster Co
It's always good to know where your food comes from. For a long time now we’ve wanted to have a seafood vendor at TVM, this week are proud to feature an interview with our newest vendor, Susan Wicks of Violets Cove Oysters.
First lets begin with an impressive fact you may not know about Susan Wicks:
Sue played high school basketball at Center Moriches where she lead the nation in scoring her senior year. Then on to Rutgers University where she was National Player of the Year. Sue played 16 seasons in Europe and Asia, 6 years for WNBA’s NY Liberty where she was an All-Star, and was inducted into the WNBA’s Basketball Hall of Fame.
Oyster farming may seem like a stretch from basketball but when I asked Sue what her inspiration was to be an oyster farmer, she told me. “I believe being on the water has always been in my blood. I have baymen, boat builders, sea captains, and a couple of pirates in my family tree.” When you talk with Sue or follow her social media pages her passion and respect for the water is obvious.
For the past 3 years, Sue has set up her oyster farm about twelve minutes by boat from her home in in East Moriches, New York. She goes out according to the tides and farms oysters twelve months out of the year.
What challenges have you faced developing your own business?
Sue: The most challenging part of a small business is all the hats you must wear when starting out - just only so many hours in a day
Who tells you where you can set your traps?
Sue: My farm is leased from the town of Brookhaven under the supervision of New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Inspectors check to be sure their strict aquaculture policies are being followed. We are monitored by the DEC, the Coast Guard, and the Army Corps of Engineers.
Do you fish anything besides oysters?
Sue: This winter we begin with sugar kelp, a very exciting crop. Sugar kelp has many applications in food, pharmaceuticals, bio fuel, and cosmetics. Sue also sells local fish according to the season- tuna, seabass, stripped bass, flounder, fluke, shrimp and scallops. Everything is fresh, never frozen, and all locally sourced from Long Island fishermen.”
Do you like oysters and what is your favorite fish dish?
Sue: Love oysters!!! Mostly raw but also love to grill them on bbq.
What do you do to recharge outside of work?
Sue: I love gardening and reading books at the beach in the summer and coaching high school basketball in the winter.
This was Sue’s first year with TVM - you may have noticed her violet tent tucked between Saint James Brewery and Sal & Jerry’s bakery. Sue’s favorite part about being at TVM is “Connecting with people and getting feedback about the seafood I’m providing to them.”
Two Final questions: Keeping in mind Sue’s amazing accomplishments, I ask: What’s your Key to Success?
Sue: My key to success is being persistent- taking failure as signal to move in a different direction rather than a stop sign. And lastly enthusiasm is fire you must always keep alive.
Is there anything else you would like our shoppers and market community to know about you?
Sue: Just a big thanks for the tremendous support i received this first summer of TVM. I felt as if I was part of a big healthy happy family.
At market I often hear: “freshest and best tasting fish and her prices are so reasonable.” We’re both proud and honored to have Sue join our TVM team this season. Be sure to check out our “Rookie of the Year” seafood offerings in our mobile market here.