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Water-Based Farms Across The Deep South - Making A Dent In Creating Sustainable Products

“The main thing is to have a gutsy approach and use your head.” ~ Julia Child

Water-based farms

Overview

Recirculating farms are a method of agriculture where continually cleaned, recycled water is used to grow plants and other aquatic species. They can be hydroponic (just plants), aquaculture (just fish), or aquaponic (fish and plants together). All other aquaculture farms use water-based solutions to grow and produce freshwater and marine fish operations. Dr. D. Allen Pattillo at the University of Maryland and Dr. David Cline at Auburn University defined the term recirculating farm. Together, they built a resource mapping solution, collectively identifying all closed-loop water-based farms, and surveyed these farms to create the landscape of understanding to provide perspective on the viability of this new farm classification. With these resources, their team evaluated local ordinances by city and state.

The research team shared how they sampled data, products, services, and the average annual revenue and industry product. Three states across the Deep South are home to over 11 Recirculating farms, and one in Mississippi is not only growing vegetables - they are producing over 10,000/lbs of fresh fish each week. That same producer is also a supporting hatchery and nursery center for restoring saltwater native fish stocks.


Hydro Plants

Alabama

The State of Alabama is home to at least four Recirculating water systems, growing organics, and conventional produce. Based in Loxley, Alabama, formerly Caine Creek Farms - The Local Lettuce Heads Farm launched its farm to grow local markets' safest, cleanest, and tastiest lettuces. You can find them every Saturday at Foley, Alabama’s Coastal Alabama Farmers Market.


Spanish Fort, Alabama, sits on the Causeway in Baldwin County near Mobile. Seasons In The Sun Farm is a hydroponic farm offering shares of its total productivity for an annual fee; this method is called Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). They produce fresh produce free of chemicals and preservatives.


Between Opelika and Phenix City, Salem is home to Southern Aquaponics, a small aquaponics-based farm. Southern Aquaponics offers classes in both Hydroponics and Aquaponics on-site. In addition to classes and small operations, they are converting a segment of their business to address the aquarium industry.



Hydro Plants


Louisiana

The Louisiana water-based farming market is robust, from growers exclusively producing for local brand-name markets to self-contained, fully sustainable systems for local restaurants and commercial kitchens. The farms actively growing and producing vegetables, like Helical Farms, a veteran-inspired business based out of Lafayette, Louisiana. On the corner of Baronne and Girod Streets sits Rouse’s Market. Roots on the Rooftop is located on the roof of Rouse’s - hydroponically growing herbs for the fresh produce marketplace.



Water-based berry farm


Mississippi

Two distinctly different yet successful organizations in Mississippi are growing fresh products. Just northwest of Jackson, Mississippi, is Salad Days Produce—a robust organization run by Leigh Bailey and Jamie Redmond, experts in real estate and farming. Today, they produce an average of six acres of field crops in an 18,000-square-foot rural greenhouse facility, preserving overall land use.



Hydroponics


Featured Farm

Aqua Green, located in Perkinston, Mississippi, is building wholistic water-based agricultural systems, well thought out and environmentally managed marine and freshwater effluent usage is top of the mind. Their growth and development are based on community collaborations and aiding in restoring millions of fingerling fish to restock coastal and inland waters in The Gulf. Steve’s current projects are expanding the hydroponic production of plants using effluent. They run Bioseparation and Solids Separation in a closed-loop system. Building a water treatment system for saltwater production, growing red snapper, sea trout, and cobia. Steve LeBlanc and his team built a very well-integrated solution, selling over 10,000 pounds weekly.



Evaporation Pond









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