Brian and Dawn Gotreaux are feeding Lafayette, but they never meant to. At its inception, Gotreaux Farms was a means to provide nutritious, organic food for their family. Brian had dabbled in farming as a child, but hadnt given it much thought again until he was diagnosed with chemical toxicitya diagnosis he believes was a result of serving in the Air Force and working as an auto mechanic for 13 years. His wife, Dawn, grew up in the small city of Jennings and met Brian in high school. Brian was always a visionary, says Dawn, fondly. They married shortly after graduation and purchased a house in the country with 5 acres of land. After having their first two children, Dawn noticed that kidsnowadays looked differently than when she was a child. Equal parts curious and cautious, she and Brian began researching how conventional foods were made and started to understand how hormones in food affect fat storage in the human body. Even more alarming was the lack of nutrients and the unnecessary presence of harmfuland even radioactivechemicals commonly found in mass-produced produce and meat products. We found conventional foods to contain a lot of heavy metals, Brian explained. Arsenic, mercury and things like that. We dont have to eat to all that. We can grow our food. So we started doing it. Allons3_Blog_Body_600x275-AGreenerPasture What began as a small-scale operation focused on raising free-range, antibiotic-free chickens has grown into an integral part of Lafayettes agricultural foundation. In the beginning, it was just to get free of the antibiotics and the heavy metals. But the more we went into researching foods, we also got on a path of discovering that food can be nutrient-dense too, Brian says. He explains further, Vitamins can be in food. A lot of people are buying cheap quality food grown in these big 10,000 acre farms. Theyre really just trying to get pounds of product off the field but they dont really care about nutrients, so people are eating that produce but still taking a multi-vitamin. An area where this especially rings true is in the way they raise their tilapia. What seems like an unusual choice for a Louisiana farm is the result of extensive research and strict qualifications for producing clean fish. For a scaled, freshwater fish that schools and thrives in a Louisiana climate, tilapia fills the nutritional void left by more commonplace southern seafood like catfish. Grown through green water agriculture, the tilapia feed on plankton in a carefully balanced ecosystem. In order to avoid adding chemicals to keep their water clean, the Gotreauxs are constantly monitoring the tanks and are careful to prevent overfeeding to appease their ever growing demand. To me, speed and production arent as important as having a good clean nutrient dense quality fish. Brian has started experimenting with biological filtrationthe process of using beneficial microbes to digest the ammonia in the ecosystem to speed the growth of the tilapia naturally. As our city recognizes the need for organic, sustainably grown food, Gotreaux Farms is happy to accommodate and educate the residents of Lafayette and beyond. I would not farm if I did not have the connectivity with my customers and my community. Its a tremendous reward having people come in and say, Thank you, Brian for what yall are doing. We love being able to offer people better food than they can buy anywhere else, Brian says. While the farm is the product of passion and not profit, it wouldnt have been possible without the support of their ten children. The Gotreauxs began to explore the idea of adoption during their initial agricultural research in the hopes of providing a loving home for children in need. Brian says, The farm is such a healing place. When you go out of your way to nurture something it just changes the way you see life. You can purchaseGotreaux Farm's in season produce as well as poultry and eggsat their Farm Stand every Tuesday from 2 - 6 p.m. located at 205 Facile Rd. in Scott. You can also visit the Gotreaux'sat the Hub City Farmer's Market held every Saturday from 8 a.m. - 12 p.m. at 427 Heyman St. in the Oil Center. You can visit their website to sign up for their newsletter to stay up to date on what's happening on the farm by clicking here. [gallery link="file" columns="4" ids="748,749,750,751,752,753,754,755,756,757,758,759,760,761,762,763,764,765,766,767,768,769,770,771,772,773,775"]