Bastrop Mayor Henry Cotton recently announced that the city of Bastrop is conducting a feasibility study at the old Ditto Garment Plant to explore the possibility of turning the building into an aquaponics farm.
“I was faced with the question of what to do with this building that we'd have to pay over one million to put back into shape,” said Mayor Cotton. “I knew someone who was running an aquaponics plant in Mississippi, and I went and looked at it.”
According to theaquaponicssource.com, aquaponics is the combining of aquaculture, or fish raising, and hydroponics, which is the process of growing plants without soil, into one integrated system.
“Hydroponics is raising plants, aquaculture is raising fish, and when you combine them you get aquaponics,” explained Mayor Cotton.
Mayor Cotton stated in a Facebook post that Bastrop Aquaponics Farm would be the largest urban farm in Louisiana, and organic vegetables would be packaged there and sold within a 400 mile radius.
Bastrop is partnering with Southern University Agriculture (hydroponics) and the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (Aquaculture). The mayor noted they will possibly partner with two farm groups in the parish as well as the Morehouse Parish School System.
Bastrop is also working with lead Bio-Science consultants Jeremy Peaches and Robert Harding.
“My objective is to include universities along with local people for food production,” stated Mayor Cotton.
In creating this farm, Mayor Cotton wants to bring more jobs to Bastrop and put the Ditto Building back to use. The mayor noted the building has been vandalized and the interior destroyed, but what remains is ideal for the plant. He is looking forward to the possibility of attempting this project and notes Bastrop is going to try its best with the farm.
“The project may or may not work, but we are going to give it our best shot,” said Mayor Cotton in a Facebook post about the plant. “We tackle hard things, because accomplishing hard things transforms communities.”