Fire Island’s Aileen Ruddy just became the first female in the Town of Islip to take ownership of Town-owned bottomland in the Great South Bay.

Ruddy, of Fair Harbor, will be using one parcel of land for shellfish cultivation through the town’s Bay Bottom Lease Program.

She was awarded the lease on Jan. 14.

“This aquaculture program is vital to the health of the Great South Bay,” said Islip Supervisor Angie Carpenter. “Each oyster filters 30-50 gallons of water per day.”

The mother of a 6-year-old son learned of the program after she left her job in New York City.

“To be able to make a living and help the environment was so exciting to me,” said Ruddy. “Food brings people together, so I love that idea.”

Though she has no current shellfish farming experience, Ruddy has been doing her due diligence.

“I’m in the beginning stage of this process,” she said. “I have plans to work on a farm in April, and I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty,”

Top: Aileen Ruddy with shellfish near the Great South Bay (courtesy).