Gratitude Reminder

By Joan Law
Feng Shui Joan’s Way

As we approach Thanksgiving this year, I am reminded of a quote that has always resonated with me:
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have into enough, and more.
It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.
It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.
-Melody Beattie, American author of self-help books on codependent relationships

I recognize that all of us have felt the enormous weight of the world’s challenges these past several years. And many of my clients have been overwhelmed with sadness at daily news reports that are less than rosy. It is hard sometimes to keep a smile on your face.

My family volunteers regularly at The Lord’s Kitchen. It is a small thing to do in a world so full of challenges. It is hard to imagine that there are people who are starving in America, but there are. And many of those folks are right in our own communities. Don’t forget the donation of a turkey or canned food items are desperately needed at all our local food pantries. One of my favorite places for food donations is Sterling House Community Center.

Having just wrapped up a longer term clutter clearing project with a lovely client, I am also reminded that the stuff we no longer need can make an enormous difference in someone else’s life. Those almost new coats, blankets, shoes, dishes, toys, and more are accepted with open arms at Palm and Able, Goodwill, the Salvation Army and so many more worthy charitable organizations.

Take a moment to be grateful – even if your life isn’t perfect – you just may find that what you have is enough, and more!

Thank you to all my good friends – I am and always will be grateful for you!

Diamonds are Created Under Pressure. So, Stay Calm and Shine Bright Like a Diamond!

By Joan Law
Feng Shui Joan’s Way

As I thought about this latest newsletter and blog, the thought struck me that diamonds are created under pressure.  And it is with great joy that I report that the Law family mined quite a few diamonds this past year!

Each and every one of our adult children experienced something big in their lives. I know all the parents out there understand fully that when your children face the good and the not so good, you are right there with them.

I also know that achieving the special and important things in life comes with hard work, a few bumps and bruises, and maybe just a little bit of pressure.

Yes, the good stuff still comes with stress. And, I honestly have to say, Feng Shui principals helped me navigate one of the most stressful and yet one of the most beautiful years of my life!

Here is what 2020 looked like for my family:

  1. Our daughter Audrey started her journey to become a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine.
  2. Our son Mason married Lauren in May and moved into a new home.
  3. Our son Clark moved into his own home.
  4. And our son Spencer married Alivia just a few weeks ago!

Feng Shui is not just about “fixing” things that aren’t working. It is about creating an environment that supports your physical and mental health so that you can enjoy the good and navigate the bad with ease.

Incidentally, a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine help patients develop attitudes and lifestyles that don’t just fight illness, but help prevent it, too. Can you see my influence on my daughter!

If you ever need help finding your life-diamonds, I’m here.

What’s Old is New!

Ride the Tidal Wave

Stratford locals and professional sellers from near and far will be there with a river raft of trinkets, treasures, and stacks of stuff! You never know what you’re gonna find at The Tidal Exchange! Come find what you are looking for in Stratford this Saturday, and every Saturday, through November 13!

You can’t get enough stuff and you know it! If one is good, two is better! And if two is better, a baker’s dozen might scratch that itch!

Around each and every corner is there’s another chance something special is going to jump out at you! If Captain Kidd really buried his treasure right off the Connecticut coast, just imagine what you can dig up in Stratford !

As many as 75 Vendors from far and wide gather to strut their stuff in Stratford Connecticut Directly off Interstate 95. Every Saturday from 8am – 2pm through November 13th!

Tools, Toys, and old tractor seats! Vintage, vinyl, a veritable treasure trove of stuff! Handmade, homemade or hauled in from somewhere or another!

Vintage Valhalla! The Antique Acropolis! Tool Town! The Dollar Depot!

A Food Truck Fiesta! (come hungry)

Tag Sale booths too! Have your tag sale at The Tidal Exchange

Free Parking all day
Free admission after 12 p.m.
Early Buyers get the pick of the litter for $10 between 8 a.m.- 9 a.m.
From 9-12 p.m. it is $3 per person
Friends and families are welcome for $5 for up to 5 people.
Vendors can still reserve spots at…/CTEventsUnli…
Find out more at:

Thank you! Thank you for all your support for this great new event in Stratford! 

Sustainable September

We Begin With Solar!

(Solar) School Is in Session🍎📝

Think back to your very first day of school. You felt all the emotions: excitement, nerves, eagerness…Starting your solar journey may feel the same!

@trinity solar will be there to guide and support you, making it simple. It all starts with an appointment when one of their experts will teach you all about solar.

After your free, no-obligation consultation, Stratford Forward will receive $100. After your system is installed, we’ll get $1000! These funds raised go back into investing into our community. Sign up today by calling (800)655-2500.

Channel Positive Energy into Small Spaces

18 Ways to Improve the Energy in Your Home

By Joan Law
Feng Shui Joan’s Way
Originally published by Redfin

If there’s one thing that we can’t seem to have enough of in a home, it’s space. And there are many ways to channel positive energy into small spaces.

Remember, if you’re working with a smaller space, it’s important to keep the energy flowing freely throughout your home. We all want rooms filled with soothing colors and simple, streamlined furnishings, but did you know that there are little mistakes that could be preventing positive energy from circulating throughout your space? While you can’t alter the square footage of your home, you can certainly improve the natural flow of energy with a few simple changes

We reached out to experts from Vancouver, BC, to Little Rock, AR, to share their best advice to bring positive energy into your space – both physically and mentally. From the front door to the bedroom, here’s what they had to say to help you instantly improve the energy in your small space.

1) Refresh your front door

The front door is where we entice auspicious energy into our homes, and in Feng Shui, this is the front door of a house. Energy goes where the eye does, so it’s worth the endeavor to make the entrance as inviting as possible. Three easy upgrades you can make to your front entrance include:

  • Replacing any burned-out lights with brighter wattage.
  • Wiping down the door and its hardware.
  • Buying a new doormat or shaking out the one you currently use.
  • You can also incorporate healthy plants or bright flowers along the front path or porch to elevate beauty and suggest good health. -Simple Shui

2) Encourage the flow of positive energy with a vibrantly colored front door

Homes are reflections of their occupants. If any part of the home is neglected or has negative energy, it’s reflected in the lives of the occupants. In Feng Shui, one of the first places to analyze in your home is the front door. A strong and vibrant-colored front door welcomes positive energy throughout your home. When chi can flow easily into your home, this brings the energy of abundance and ease. -Darcy Blaine

3) Add a small wreath to your doorknob to enhance the energy in your home

If you’re looking to enhance the energy in your home, you can manifest high vibrations by creating a small wreath for your doorknob. Use a muslin bag, and put into it a tablespoon of salt, black tourmaline to protect from negative visitors, three new copper pennies for good spirits and vibrations in and around your home, and then add rose quartz for loving vibrations. Tie this in a knot, and string it on the doorknob. -SaQred Space Solutions

4) Place red electrical tape underneath your front doormat

One of my favorite tips for generating wealth within the home is to place red electrical tape underneath your front doormat. Make sure the arrow on top faces inwards, and lay coins with the heads up facing outwards. This will allow abundance into your home. Another way I like to clear stagnant energy from a room is by clapping around its perimeter walls while visualizing light entering every corner. This clears away any negativity that may be lingering inside each nook or cranny of your dwelling space without leaving behind bad vibes.  -The Sweetest Little Life

5) Keep your entryway clear of clutter

The main entrance of a home is not just a means of entering the house; it’s also considered a ‘gateway that leads to victory and abundance in life.’ The entrance functions as an entry point for the Qi, or energy, to flow. Having a clean and inviting entrance that lets in a lot of light from the outside is an assured path to success. -Tanya’s Feng Shui

6) Display art in your entryway that features open spaces and warm colors

Even a small entryway can become welcoming and spacious if you add a picture of nature with warm colors that also features open spaces, such as an ocean, lake, or meadow. The effect will be even stronger if you place a mirror to reflect the nature in the picture or real nature in the window. Be sure to place the mirror on a sidewall and not across the entry door. -Natalia Kaylin

7) Invite positive energy into your space by enhancing the air quality

Part of cleaning, clearing, and decluttering small areas is air quality. We often forget to address and enhance the quality of our air, which is important for good energy in a space. Some easy to use remedies are high-quality essential oils in a diffuser (such as lemon), or air-purifying plants, like a snake plant which does well in small areas and is easy to care for. -Gina Nicole

8) Keep spaces separate

Small spaces can feel chaotic when asked to multi-task, so carve out a workspace with an area rug or even painter’s tape on the table. If piles feel overwhelming, flip them upside down to work from the bottom up. -The Intuitive Interior

9) Add objects that carry strong, meaningful vibes after clearing the space

Before you really can establish “good energy” in a space, especially a new home, it’s vital to clear and cleanse the previous owner’s energy and vibrations. You can do this by using smoke cleansing with various herbs or a Smokeless Smudge if you are fire alarm cautious. Once you’ve cleared the energy of a room, it’s time to add objects like crystals, family heirlooms, and energy-packed images that carry a strong, meaningful vibe. Even if you dedicate a small table or portion of a shelf with these types of objects, you’ll feel a difference. This will hold space for good energy to remain and linger. Clear quartz is like the Swiss Army Knife of stones. It can do anything and everything you’d like it to and is an excellent crystal for energetic minimalists living in cozy situations. -Sage & Salt

10) Keep living areas light and airy

In Feng Shui, light is Yang energy, the energy of life, and nothing is more important for good Feng Shui than fresh air and natural sunlight. So open up those windows and curtains to let the light flow into the heart of your home. -The Feng Shui Lab

11) Cultivate positive energy in your home by engaging your senses

Decorate your space with bright, uplifting colors. Diffuse essential oils to gently enhance the scent of your home while boosting your health and wellbeing. Have comfy pillows and blankets nearby in your favorite places to relax. Play peaceful music and add live plants to help bring life and harmony into your home. -Fate into Destiny Wellness Center

12) Cleanse small spaces with an energy clearing ritual 

Energy has a way of becoming stagnant in small areas. New Moon and Full Moon phase is a great time to do an energy clearing ritual to renew the energy with sage, palo santo, or incense. Start from outside the house, and go clockwise throughout the entire house. Pay special attention to smaller spaces like closets and unused parts of the home and finish at the right side of the front door. -Momentum Feng Shui

13) Display a natural crystal in high traffic areas of your home (such as the entryway or living room) to radiate positive energy and clear stagnant energy

Studies show that crystals like clear quartz or amethyst have a stable molecular structure, which is one reason that they are thought to bring positive, calming energy. Even if you’re skeptical about the metaphysical properties, they add a natural flair to your home and can serve as great visual reminders to pause and find presence in your daily life. -Intertwined by Bella

14) Designate areas for hand towels

If you’ve ever had to use a wet bath towel hanging over the shower curtain rod at someone else’s house, it can be a little uncomfortable. Adding a designated hand towel to your bathrooms can take the guesswork out of which towel to use. It also makes your guests feel more comfortable, and your bathroom looks and feels more inviting. I suggest a small countertop towel stand or matching wall mounts to create a positive flow of energy at every experience in your home. -Fir Flower Feng Shui Consulting

15) Aim to enhance the natural light in bedrooms:  Feng Shui Joan’s Way

Light is very important for making a small space feel larger and for the Feng Shui of a room. Natural light in the morning helps to awaken your body naturally, and a darkened room at night signals your body that it’s time to settle down and reset. Strategically placing a mirror to enhance any natural light that peaks through and choose full-spectrum light bulbs that mimic natural light.

16) Keep the decorations in your bedroom to a minimum to maximize the stillness of your mind

Busy patterns and strong colors can subconsciously lead to stress and impede peaceful bedrest, especially in a small bedroom. Choose plain textures and soothing colors of the Earth element of Feng Shui to increase the Yin factor. -SO Feng Shui Design

17) Position mirrors away from the bed

Without proper sleep, your health and ability for optimum performance go down. Be sure you’re not facing a mirror when you are sleeping and that your device is set on airplane mode. Following this tip will allow you to have a proper sleep so that you wake up refreshed and be at the top of your game. -Life’s Simple Pleasures

18) Support headboards with a wall instead of a window

Sleeping is considered a yin energy (passive and quiet) activity. Thus, the bed headboard should ideally be supported by a wall and not onto a window. The outer window is often accompanied by movement from personnel or traffic which is considered yang energy activity. In order to have good sleep quality, we should avoid mixing activities of these two energies together. Avoid locating your bed under an overhead beam. The edge of the beam would cause the energy to exert an uncomfortable downward pressure on the sleeper during the night. Thus, prolonged exposure might affect the sleep quality. -MHS Classical Feng Shui



Essential Guide for Employing Feng Shui for School and Work Spaces

By Joan Law
Feng Shui Joan’s Way

My essential guide to back-to-school/work space employs Feng Shui tips to make your in-home school study space or in-home office work for you. You really can improve on and/or build a path for success by using Feng Shui principles in your school and work spaces.

I’m currently working with a couple with two school-aged children.  Many of the recommendations I’ve made for this family can also work for those of you who are setting up a home-office as well as creating space for back-to-school. 

This is an example for how a time of transition in an individual’s life may also be a time of opportunity for one’s whole family.

Mom (my client) had hoped that purchasing desks for the kids would keep their school supplies off the kitchen table and provide them with quiet workspaces in their bedrooms, but much to her dismay they used their new desks as laundry baskets instead. During the consultation I suggested we turn the desk around so that the kids could see the door from their study space. We all feel safer and more comfortable when our backs are protected. This small change made all the difference with one son announcing that “now he felt like a boss!” Mom and dad have also employed this simple concept to their workspaces as well.

Here are some more tips pulled and updated from one of my older blogs.

A Desk with a View

As with good Feng Shui bed placement, desks should face the room’s entry door whenever possible. The concept of facing the door when one is sleeping in bed or working from a desk is to always be in a position of being able to see what’s coming at you.

If you can’t face the desk towards the door, face it towards positive and uplifting artwork. If possible, have a solid wall behind you as you sit at your desk to provide support.

And provide plenty of light: a good desk lamp, access to a bright window and overhead light generates positive and uplifting energy as well.

If there’s no room for your child to study in their room, try to create a designated study area in the house. The kitchen or dining room table is not ideal.

Use your Bagua Map!

Orient the bottom of the map on the door of the home or the door of the room. The goal is to help orient your child’s work/study surroundings or location so that it lands in a Bagua area of Wisdom, Creativity, or even Career.

Ensuring your student’s work/study area aligns with the most appropriate parts of the Bagua map will boost their success in their studies.

Email me your mailing address and I will send you a Bagua! 

Create a Display

Create a bulletin board to display your child’s successes near the workstation.

Showcasing report cards, awards, artwork, citations, and a happy family photo or two creates a positive message of love and support and reminds the student of their success and abilities. This important positivity and will nurture continued growth.

Make a Space for School Materials

Children need an organized place to hang their coats and place their lunchboxes, backpacks and books. Give them a dedicated space for storing their school stuff.

Have you found your “designated spot” is being ignored and that things are landing somewhere else?

Try setting your system up for success. Create a space where things are naturally collecting.  This tip comes straight from one of my favorite books, Organizing from the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern.

Get Clutter Under Control

Help your children keep their work area tidy.  Clutter represents blockages, the inability to move forward. Be sure your child has plenty of appropriate storage and that they can put items away before and after studying.

They should throw away old papers and notes and organize files. Feng Shui says that de-cluttering the bedroom and/or study space will give education luck a positive and immediate boost.

Bring on the Fish!

Kids are always begging for a pet. So go ahead and let them have a few!

In Feng Shui, fish represent abundance and prosperity. Be sure to consider the Bagua map (or contact me for a consultation) on where to place this auspicious Feng Shui tool. And let the kids learn a sense of responsibility for their beautiful new pets.

Move the Electronics

Computers and other devices transmit electromagnetic frequencies (EMFs) that are harmful to humans. Cut down on your family’s exposure to EMFs by locating computers and devices far from the bed and shutting them down at night.

Living plants are also a great way to absorb EMFs as well. Lucky Bamboo or a Money Plant are good choices for any room in the house.


Being Cheesy A Good Thing!

by Timothy Bristol

What was your motivation to start up a food truck? 

My original motivation for wanting to open a food truck was I love cooking and food trucks were a booming part of the restaurant industry.

When my business partner, Mike Young, approached me with the idea for a food truck I already had several concepts in mind. We got together and made a grilled cheese truck. It turns out we did it at the perfect time because we both got furloughed from our jobs due to the Covid pandemic.

We pulled my wife, Amanda, in for her financial expertise and to help out on the truck. The three of us together formed the company in August 2020. We didn’t actually open until January 2021 due to issue with the truck and red tape from CT towns

What hurdles did you encounter in becoming a food truck proprietor? 

First we bought a used food truck and did not anticipate how much repair it needed. But we had enough startup funds to handle all the repairs.

Second we encountered a lot of red tape when it came to licenses and permits. Every town in CT wants something different from you. There is no standard license form or requirement from the towns on getting a permit. It makes working in more than one town expensive and tedious.

The third issue we came across was where to set up the truck. The Town of Stratford has made it impossible to street vend, the only times we operate in town are events we are invited too. We can’t even sell at the Paradise Farmers Market, right down the street from my house. Most other towns have permits you can get to street vend in specific locations. We would love to be able to go to the boat ramp or the beaches and sell there but we aren’t allowed.

Why grilled cheese?

We love grilled cheese, it’s a food I think everyone can get behind and it’s very customizable. Everyone has their favorite kind of grilled cheese

What else do you have besides grilled cheese?

We also serve soups, chili, and Mac and Cheese. Our menu is constantly changing and we are trying out new stuff all the time

How do you decide where to go?

We get catering requests for private parties. Aside from that we get invited to farmer’s markets and fairs. We also try to work with local business as much as we can. It is first come first serve.

Do you go out every day?

Right now we are booked Thursday through Sundays. I get a few days off. Also from the booking we have right now we will be operating throughout the winter.

Do you do parties?

Yes, we do private parties and events. You can book through our website and the trucks phone # is 203 751-4161.

Anything else you think Crier readers should know?

We are a finalist for CT Magazine best food truck in 2021. We will find out in the fall if we won.

We love to work with other local business. We get some of our ingredients from local businesses we meet at the markets and we are always looking for partnerships that benefit everyone.



Solar Fundraiser

A Case Study

by Lori Scala
Community Outreach Program
Trinity Solar
When some of the board members of the Old Lyme Sound View Beach Association, Inc. (SVBA) recently had solar installed on their homes, they realized that there were more benefits than just saving money on their electric bills and having a positive impact on the environment.

They also discovered a fundraising opportunity to have solar panels put on the roof of the Shoreline Community Center, which is sponsored by the SVBA. The center’s bills for electricity in the summer run about $400 a month, which is much too high for a non-profit organization. To lower the electric costs year round, the board wanted to install solar panels on the center’s roof. This would be a huge expense for the SVBA as the center is a commercial building and not eligible for federal residential grants.

In support of the Shoreline Community Center’s fundraiser, Trinity Solar offered to give the SVBA $100 for every homeowner that has an appointment in their home with one of their solar experts. If Trinity installs solar on their home, no matter what town it is in, the center will receive $1,000.

Stratford Forward is one of the partners that Trinity is working with to not only educate the homeowners in our community on the benefits of solar but, to help support local projects that everyone can benefit from.

About Stratford Forward

Stratford Forward is focused on creating a blueprint for success by bringing people together to learn from each other in order to improve our community.

They are committed residents of Stratford who are non-partisan and believe in building a foundation of trust. We do this by listening to each other, creating consensus, holding forums, securing expert consultations and driving change one issue at a time.

Stratford needs a vision and a master plan – we have a great opportunity for the town to redesign itself and create a thriving future.

With this partnership, for anyone that is considering solar and signs up through the custom link below, Trinity donates funds for the appointment, whether you go solar or not, and for the installation, if you choose to move forward and have panels installed.

The Solar process is simple:
• Click on this link and fill in your information

•Someone from the Trinity Community Outreach team will call to ask a few qualifying questions and set up your personal appointment.

•If Trinity can help you save money and your home qualifies for their no cost solar program, they will make sure that they are with you every step of the way.

There is no commitment for signing up. Only the benefit of finding out more from a company that, not only has been in business for many years but, is also supporting our community.

If you would like to speak with someone before signing up through the link, you can contact the community outreach team at 800-655-2500 or speak to our Regional Account Executive directly at 203-895-8968.

Just please make sure to always mention Stratford Forward.

Together, Trinity Customers Are Making A Difference.
39,875,424 – Trees Saved
5,983,985,169 – Miles Not Driven
5,316,548,916 – Pounds of CO2 Reduced

Figures based on EPA calculator –


Grandma Jan’s Handkerchief

By Joan Law
Feng Shui Joan’s Way

My recent survey of FSJW News subscribers provided me with valuable insight. I hope sharing what I have learned from some of you will be helpful to all of you.

Many survey respondents reported they are approaching retirement. So this type of life circumstance will be the topic of today’s news/blog.

Take Control of your Future by Taking Control of your Past
How can you take control of your future by taking control of your past? I have found in my work that this is a question most folks ask themselves when they face significant life experiences such as retirement, downsizing, or the passing of a parent or loved one.

All three of those life experiences have us reflecting on our past and thinking about what comes next.

Grandma Jan’s Handkerchief
Grandmother Jan’s handkerchief comes to mind and is relevant in a round-about way as I reflect on this topic. The story of the hanky helps me illustrate how my work in Feng Shui and as an End of Life Doula intersect.

Here is a photo of a lovely and clearly special handkerchief from France framed and preserved for all posterity. Unfortunately, we don’t know why Grandma Jan had this item. We discovered it when going through her estate when she passed. Was it a souvenir from a trip abroad? Did it belong to her mother or grandmother? Was it simply something she saw in a shop and just had to have?

A Scarf with a Story
I experience similar circumstances time and time again as I work with clients.

A current client is an amazing woman who has traveled the world and whose life has been and still is rich with adventure. She has hired me to help her downsize.

Downsizing is a traumatic and daunting task, and it really is hard to do alone. As my client’s children live overseas, my work is to be a sounding board and a friend. We are working together to honor a life well lived. Most importantly, we are doing this now so that she has control over the memories that should be kept and carried forward. And the stuff that doesn’t necessarily need to be seen by anyone else is dealt with accordingly.

Going through boxes, we came upon an elegant but simple white scarf. My first instinct was to place it in the donation box. But no…the story behind the scarf is one for the history books.

Perhaps Grandma Jan’s handkerchief had such a story behind it.

I will explore with my client a unique and special way to preserve and document this item and others so that posterity knows the story behind them. Writing a note and taping it to the back of a shadow boxed item is a simple solution.

What I do know is my client will move to her new space with her most important memories intact. And when her children come to visit, they will hear all about her past adventures as well as the new ones she will encounter in her new home. They will know why mom kept a simple white scarf and that it was a gift from the Dalai Lama.

Clearing clutter is always a good exercise prior to a big life transition. It brings clarity and allows ample room for new opportunities to come your way.

Quite honestly, so much of the work I do wearing my Feng Shui hat is actually very similar to what an End of Life Doula would do for a client.

Feng Shui and Doula work is not necessarily about controlling your life, but it is about managing it from beginning to end.

What we can control is the stuff we surround ourselves with. That stuff should never weigh you down and it should always bring you and your loved one’s joy.

Let’s set up a time to chat about how I might help you with your big life transitions.

And, don’t forget, I have a host of goodies to give away and I am so enjoying the connections or re-connections that I am making. The survey will remain live until the end of August.

You can still be a part of the fun, just click on the survey link and I will be in contact to answer your unique Feng Shui question via phone or email.

To link to the survey go to my website and click on Survey.

1. Entry into a drawing for fun prizes!

2. A Feng Shui tip for one area of your coming year that you feel you need assistance with.

3. Open Door Tea Samples.

4. FSJW Jar Opener.

New England Oystermen circa 2021

Bell’s Shellfish

7 Generations of Shellfishing Coming to Stratford

by Rob Norrholm

For over 7 generations the same family line has been harvesting oysters and clams from Long Island Sound, bringing over 200 years of expertise and quality to each and every catch.

With 55 years working in the industry himself, in 2006 Captain Dave Hopp decided to start his own one-boat shop, naming it Bell’s Shellfish after his grandfather, Captain Wallace Bell, who passed along his immense knowledge of the aquaculture of The Sound and love for the clamming and oystering industry.

Bell’s Shellfish has since grown to 4 boats and a grandfather working alongside his grandsons daily.  Here is their story from his grandson Rob Norrholm.

What is the history of Bell’s Shellfish?

“Shellfishing is in our DNA and a family business. Currently, Bell’s Shellfish is run by Captain Dave Hopp who is my grandfather, along with myself and my brother, Kyle Norrholm.”  Rob Norrholm

Each of us run our own boat and have known for our whole life that this is what we would be doing.  Our father also plays a part in the daily operations both on water and land, so we have three generations out there together at the moment.

We know that this is something that is rare and special. We take great pride in it. My grandfather learned how to Oyster from his grandfather, Captain Wallace Bell, and his uncle, Captain Wallace (Barney) Bell. Wallace learned the trade from his father, Willis Bell, whom learned from his father Hiram Bell. Each of these men live(d) in Norwalk (dating back to the 1800’s) and plied their shellfishing trade on Long Island Sound.

Though the technology and vessels have changed a bit (from oystering boats run by sails to steamships, to today’s diesel powered boats), the methods and stories live on and are what we apply to our work each day.

It’s very cool to look back and see each generation with “oysterman” next to their occupation in census data, sometimes in their own hand writing even. Though we have our own company now with Bell’s Shellfish, it wasn’t since the first (known) generation of family oystermen that it was that way.

Hiram Bell was a partner in Norwalk-based Bell & Raymond Oyster Company during the 1800’s, but after several events happened, the generations to follow, including today’s three active generations, all worked for other local oyster and clamming companies, captaining boats, but rather than working for ourselves, we were working for the broader family business.

Many of the clam and oyster companies in Long Island Sound share a family tree… fun fact! In 2006 my grandfather decided he was ready to go out on his own, knowing that Kyle and I were all in to make it a family venture of our own. Here we are 15 years later, still doing what we love and constantly evolving our business. We are getting ready to open a retail shop in Stratford to sell our freshly harvested clams and oysters 5 minutes from our docks in Bridgeport.

Why did you decide to follow in your grandfather’s footsteps?

As a child I spent a ton of time at the docks and on the boats with my grandfather. I got a taste of running my first boat when I was 9 years old. One Saturday, I went with my grandfather for a boat ride while he was working. He was going to move oysters from deep water to shallower water for this part of their growth process. He let me run the boat (under careful supervision of course) on the way out to get them. After we finished moving the oysters and were heading back in, he looked at me and said “Good job kid, only a million more to go!” and I guess I really have taken that to heart. I’ve been hooked ever since.

How do you “oyster” or “clam”?

Oysters and clams are both cultivated on the bottom of Long Island Sound using dredges. There are differing approaches to catching each, but the general idea is the same. We strategically work the bottom to encourage growth while careful to not do any damage. The health of Long Island Sound is our top priority, as the healthier the environment, the more fruitful the harvest. We generally leave the docks at 6 am and return with our catch of the day at 2 pm. One of the most frequently asked questions I get is, “do you do this year round?” And my answer is yes, we’re out there 12 months a year with very few “bad weather” breaks.

What do you do with the catch?

We sell our daily catch to our wholesalers, many of whom are local and provide to area restaurants and grocery stores in addition to regional fish markets in New York and Boston.

We also have a few restaurants that we deliver fresh caught clams and oysters to directly, and then the remainder are caught-to-order day of for our online sales orders and soon to be shop. We can’t wait to be open in Stratford and bring our clams and Stratford Point Oysters into your kitchens and cookouts!

Bell’s Shellfish proudly harvests clams and Stratford Point Oysters year round, wild caught off the shoreline in Stratford.

WHEN: Stratford Point Oysters are available year round

TASTE: Because our oysters are fresh and wild caught, they are naturally salty and sweet with a hint of brine and clean finish.