Program and Process

Given the requirements outlined above, the blue crab farm functions as a microcosm of the Bay—one that replicates the nature and character of the blue crab’s entire lifecycle. The crab is conceived, gestated, and birthed in the lab. It is there that each crab grows through the two phases of larval/post larval development, and is subsequently sluiced via pipette to the loading dock to begin its new life in landscaped raceways. The blue crab will spend the next 90 days of his life in a 42 foot wide by 240 foot long concrete pond filled with submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) and infauna (worms, mollusks, etc.) in order to approximate the blue crab’s natural environment. In each raceway, there is a continuous purification system that exposes water to UV light and provides a very slight current to keep water fresh throughout. Given the proper food, at the end of the 90 days, it is believed that the surviving crabs will have grown to full size, and will be ready for harvesting. When the crabs are ready for harvest, the raceway water will be sluiced directly from the raceway into the adjacent wetlands, where the natural grasses will begin the process of breaking down the trace nitrates and phosphates that have not been treated by the inline UV filtration system. When the raceway has been emptied, the crabs will be removed from the raceway by hand and wheelbarrow, and placed in dump trucks for transport back to the picking/processing facility. Once the crabs have reached the facility, they will be dumped into a stainless steel chute and sorted by the steam staff. Some crabs will be substantially bigger than others, and these will be pulled to the side for sale as jumbo live crabs. The rest will be steamed and refrigerated before being picked. After refrigeration (which causes the meat to contract in the shell therefore making the crabmeat easier to pick) the crabs arms and legs will be removed using a mechanical chopper, and the body, or carapace, will be chopped in half, also using a machine. The body is then distributed to the hand-pickers who extract the meat at a rate between twenty and sixty crabs per hour. At the end of the shift, each picker will carry their bucket of crabmeat to the weigh-table for weigh-in and inspection. The debris and detritus from the picking operation will go on to secondary picking, in which the remaining crabmeat and guts is strained from the chitinous exoskeleton and processed. No part of the crab, save the exoskeleton, is wasted. Even the guts will be sold to local restaurants that will use this byproduct to flavor less tasty imported crab meat. Once the crabmeat is weighed, it will be packaged in plastic containers, boxed, and refrigerated, ready to ship. The facility portion of the program breaks down into three parts—laboratory, picking/processing, and public. As such, the best diagram for the facility is a three-way Venn diagram. Each part overlaps at shared programmatic elements, like the loading dock, the lobby, etc. Because the working program is conceived of as an aquarium of sorts into which the public can look, the public functions naturally take on an interstitial or corridor-like nature. From this gallery, the working operations of the program are made clearly evident to the visitor, almost like a tour of an assembly line. It is believed that this show-like environment will generate a substantial secondary income from tours.


Figure 32 – Program and Process Diagram Relating Timeline to Physical Movement of the Crab through the System. Author Illustration.
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