Hydroponic system to expand produce
A $200,000 gardening project seeks to bring a variety of unique, year-round produce to farmers’ markets in Iberia Parish by the spring.
“We’re hoping this jump starts new business in the area and makes this a better place to live,” said Marti Harrell, the initiative manager of the project.
The two cooperatives in the gardens project, the Iberia Community Garden Co-op and Heirloom Produce Co-op, will use soil-less hydroponic systems to increase quality and productivity while using less water, energy and space.
H e described the gardens as a community-oriented project aimed at promoting healthy lifestyles . T h eir first produce , he said, will include lettuce, bok choy, cabbage and other greens that yield a quick harvest.
T he Iberia Community Gardens Co-op will use a quarter-acre lot at 1505 Hopkins St. , New Iberia, while the Heirloom Produce Co-op will use 10 smaller gardens throughout Iberia Parish maintained by independent gardeners with an interest in hydroponic methods.
“ One of the wonderful features of heirloom produce is that it’s not what you see at the supermarket,” Himel said. “You have a very wide variety, for instance, black-cherry tomatoes, striped eggplant, interesting lettuce varieties. ”
T h e Iberia Industrial Development Foundation and its sister organization, the Iberia Development Foundation, were approached by the Community Foundation of Acadiana in October to manage to gardens project.