By Alex DeMetrick

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — It may not seem like the best place to grow a garden, but it turns out Baltimore’s Inner Harbor works for oysters.

Oyster shells are an investment in the future.

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“We’ve got about one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven young oysters on this parent shell,” said Terry Cummings, with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

And 100 shells are going into each of the 25 cages brought to the Inner Harbor by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Like other waterside businesses, the Harbor East Marina is taking on oyster gardening.

“Our teams here at Harbor East Marina will tend to the oyster cages, clean up any debris and just make sure they have a healthy environment to grow,” said Paige Holden, with Harbor East Marina.

The project started a few years ago in water that’s far from being pristine

“People thought it couldn’t be done when we first proposed it, but we piloted it and the oysters survived,” said Cummings.

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When they grow large enough, the oysters will be placed on a reef in the outer harbor.

“In the next five years we’ll put at least 5 million oysters out there,” said Cummings.

They aren’t being raised for eating, but for the habitat they provide, including cleaner water.

“Oysters are filter feeders. They filter fifty gallons of water a day — a bathtub’s worth of water — as an adult oyster,” said Cummings.

Increasing the odds of these oysters it making to adulthood is what oyster gardens are all about.

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The oysters that went into the water on Friday will be removed next May, when they will be placed on a protected reef near Fort Carroll.