“It was a long path from banker to farmer,” he joked.
Maraist spoke to the Rotary Club of Crowley Tuesday afternoon about being one of only two grass farms in the area, the other in Welsh, and growing four types of grass.
A few years ago, he took 300 acres of his family’s land and turned it into a full fledged grass farm. Now in only his second full year of farming, Maraist is growing and harvesting four different types of grass, probably the four most popular in the state–419 Bermuda, St. Augustinegrass, Centipede and Zoysia.
The transfer into the grass farming business was not as simple as planting grass, as Maraist explained. For starters the land had to be fixed specifically for the grasses and a specific type of irrigation had to be set up for the land.
Maintaining the grass is also a job as it must be mowed, which is done roughly twice a week according to Maraist, and fertilized three to four times per year. As he explained, Arena Grass Farms uses all organic products, which he believes will show benefits in the short term and long term.
For those unaware how grass farming works, Maraist explained there is special equipment for harvesting grass. It is harvested only when a client, a landscaper for example, contacts Arena Grass Farms. Grass is then harvested with about an inch of top soil in either a palette or a roll.
Rolls are probably the most well known sod, as many sports fans know sports fields are re-sod through rolls. What many may not know is that after a sports field has been re-sod it needs about eight weeks for the grass to be really ready for play, according to Maraist.
The palettes, however, are actually used often, particularly by landscapers.
Arena Grass Farms sells its grass wholesale almost exclusively, but does, on occasion, sell its grass at a retail price.
As he was answering questions, Maraist pointed out that St. Augustinegrass, while very popular, is a very tough grass to maintain as it can be inundated with various weeds, like common Bermuda grass.
He also discussed how some of his grass types have allowed dual crop harvests while some only one.
While only in his second full year, Maraist has already had to deal with one of Louisiana summer’s biggest adversary, as was the case last year with the major drought.