When Swamp Head Brewery moved into its new location off Southwest 34th Street in Gainesville, the company saved roughly an acre of land for conservation.
A large part of the brewery’s brand is being “inherently Floridian,’ said Brandon Nappy, Swamp Head’s tactical marketing manager, citing the state’s love for the outdoors as a focus for the company.
“The outdoor lifestyle is very big for us, and being in the natural environment that Florida has is a lot of fun,” Nappy said, “So, why not build a little of that on our property?”
The brewery financed the construction of a man-made pond on the property, and recently released 300 bluegill in the water. These are the first fish species introduced into the ecosystem.
In order to recreate an environment similar to the Florida wetlands native species of animals and plants will be introduced slowly, Nappy said. The brewery is working toward creating an environment that reflects their tasting room, “The Wetlands.”
Mark Brown, a University of Florida environmental engineering sciences professor, said the restoration and creation of wetlands is an interesting science because wetlands are a habitat for many important wildlife species.
“We have recreated or restored many wetlands throughout the state of Florida, so it’s quite possible to do,” Brown said, “but not everyone can just go out and make a wetland.”
Mike Allen, a UF freshwater fisheries and ecology professor, is helping the brewery establish a natural environment, and said the next step is introducing juvenile Florida bass to the wetlands.
The bluegills and the bass can be found at local hatcheries, but other species will need to be harvested – species only found in the wild. Allen said he’s looking forward to collecting spotted sunfish, also known as stumpknockers, in May.
“It’s a native fish, and with Stump Knocker beer, we’d like to get them establish in the pond,” Allen said.
Allen said the wetlands, which are located at 3650 SW 42nd Ave., should be fully populated by the end of the summer and self-sustainable by next year.