US (CA): Turning 4 yards into low-water mini-farms

It’s a warming Sunday morning at the Atwater Village Farmers Market, and close to the entrance on Garden Avenue, a chipper voice is beckoning shoppers.

“Red vein sorrel!” The voice belongs to Mike Wood, the owner-farmer of Huarache Farms. He stands behind a table, wearing glasses, sandals, running shorts, and a straw hat, which has a hole in its crown from rubbing against low-slung orange branches.

Unlike other stands stuffed with bunches of dirt-covered produce, Mike’s spot is lined with leafy greens and sprouts that have been trimmed and washed; they rest in large plastic bins with silver tongs for scooping. Small black placards with white handwriting inform shoppers of names, prices, nutritional value, and use.

Wood’s farm is as nontraditional as his market setup. It’s a collection of four backyards: three in Sierra Madre and one in Glendale that runs on a combination of hydroponic systems, wicking beds, and vertical bins that use recycled water.

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