Every Friday on social media, we post a Farm Feature Friday showcasing one of our dedicated North Carolina farmers. Brian Reburn of Marshallberg Farms is one of those farmers. The #FarmFeatureFriday campaign will run through December 2021 on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Be sure to tune in each Friday afternoon on social and help show your support for our local farmers!
Historically, sturgeon has been a part of the fishing industry in the United States but it is native to Europe and Russia. Through a passion for fish farming and and a little help from experts at N.C. State University, Marshallberg Farm has grown to be the largest producer of Russian Sturgeon and Ostera Caviar in North America.
Brian Reburn, Farm Manager at Marshallberg Farm, married into the fish farming industry and joined the company in 2011. “My father-in-law always knew he wanted to be a fish farmer,” Brian said, “and thanks to N.C. State University, he got started farming in 2003 with about 3,000 Russian Sturgeon.” Today, the farm is home to about 25,000 fish and operates two facilities, one near the N.C. mountains and the other near the coast. Each year they produce roughly one ton of caviar for their consumers.
Ostera caviar is one of the highest grades of caviar due to its brown/gold color, firm texture, medium size and nutty/buttery flavor. It takes about 7 to 10 years for a Russian Sturgeon to mature and produce high-quality caviar, making patience a key trait for Brian and his family. On a daily basis, much of the work done on the farm is preventative. “Only about 10 to 20% of our work week is handling the fish,” he said, “a lot of our job consists of maintenance on the machines, cleaning to ensure high-quality safety and recording data from the tanks.” Tanks at the facility recirculate around a million gallons of water on a normal basis and fish are moved through the tanks based on size, age and gender. “It’s round-the-clock work,” Brian said, “and we all rely on each other to keep everything going and working properly.” At the end of the day, Brian and his family take pride and satisfaction in educating the public on the importance of the fish farming industry and providing a high-quality caviar to their customers.
Although it is still a young industry, Brian reminds us that there is plenty of opportunity to get involved. “There is plenty of honor, respectability, trade growth and salary in the fish farm industry, and, although it is expensive to get into, it is so worth it,” Brian said.
Ostera Caviar from Marshallberg Farm can be purchased directly through their website and Brian recommends eating it straight off your thumb. “It is an old Russian trick and you really taste the full flavor of the product that way,” he said, “but mixing it into an omelet is always a good second choice.” In the future, Brian and his family plan to continue farming and raising high-quality caviar for their consumers and hope to become an innovator in the aquaculture industry.