While most college students spend their weekends doing homework, going to parties or hanging out with friends, Phi Gamma Delta brother Samuel Dorval spends his weekends on the Atlantic Ocean working on his oyster farm in Brunswick, Maine.
The University of Maine student, along with fellow second-year mechanical engineering student Max Burtis, and second-year University of Rhode Island student Max Friedman, started Ferda Farms in March of 2018. Dorval has spent every weekend commuting back to Brunswick from Orono to work on the oyster farm.
As high schoolers, Burtis, Dorval and Friedman began digging clams on the Atlantic coast at low tide but wanted to find something to do during high tide in the summer. Since Burtis lived right on the ocean, he, his family and the other two boys decided to grow oysters.
Since its creation in 2018, Ferda Farms has gone from a summer hobby to a company that sells market products at events throughout Maine. At Ferda Farms, Dorval runs social media accounts, business to business transactions and customer relations. The marketing student plans to work on the marketing-related aspects of the company.
When he is not clamming or working on his farm, Dorval is a member of the FIJI fraternity on campus.
“Bonding in brotherhood and scholarship, I thought would help make my college experience more meaningful. And putting yourself towards something more meaningful, instead of self-sustained goals,” Dorval said. “Scholarship and friendship are two of our main values. Spending time in the library, putting my feet toward getting good grades and actually making something out of my schooling, means something to me. A lot of people just hang out and don’t really make much of their schooling and I didn’t want that.”
Dorval was a member of the Brunswick High School football team that won a state championship in 2016 and who were runners up in 2014 and 2015. His success in high school and love of football inspired him to work as a manager for the University of Maine football team in 2018. The football team won a CAA championship and was an FCS semi-finalist. He used that time to become familiar with the staff, learn how the program worked and decide if he wanted to try to walk on. He decided not to return this year because of the time commitment that Ferda Farms takes and he knows that he wants to invest his future in the farm.
He began his first year as an electrical engineering student but switched to marketing at the beginning of this year. He initially thought that electrical engineering would prove valuable on the oyster farm but found that marketing was more practical. He plans to graduate a year early from UMaine and work full time on his oyster farm.
Doval is currently working on finding a bigger lease for the farm in order to produce more oysters for market sale. They are currently working on their tumbler system to separate market sized oysters from the rest. They are also working to produce 50,000 oysters by the spring and continue production through this winter.