Edible Monterey Bay

LAST CALL: Aguas Frescas

One final story about water…Mexican style

Photo by Rob Fisher

At age nine, José Luis Barajas started selling fresh fruit drinks at baseball games and soccer matches in Jiquilpan, a small town south of Guadalajara in the Mexican state of Michoacán.

“I was practically born in the market,” he says. “My father sold fruits and vegetables, and my mother served meals there. They sent me out to sell aguas frescas to make money for school.

“I always thought I could do something big with my life, but I never imagined it would be this,” he says, proudly referring to his Salinas- based company, Jiquilpan Frutas y Aguas Frescas.

You may have seen Barajas, now 42, standing behind a row of colorful barrels filled with iced drinks at the Tuesday night … Read More

In the Garden: Fifty Shades of Greywater

Capturing perfectly good water—
be it rain or wash water—
before it goes down the drain

“We are all going to have to adapt in our lifetime, and it can be exciting and creative—not a sacrifice or exercise in scarcity. People love cars that get good gas mileage. Now it’s time for our homes, businesses, landscapes, parks, schools and churches to get good “water mileage.” —LeAnne Ravinale, water wise coach, Scotts Valley Water District


Greywater makes good common sense—it can help a household cut its water use by nearly half—a family of four, for example, can trim the typical 38,000 gallons of water it uses each year by 15,000. Just as recycling plastics and paper diverts them from the landfill, greywater systems prevent perfectly good water from washing … Read More

Department of Lawn Replacement: In Defense of Food

Putting precious water to use in an edible garden

A repurposed metal horse trough can make an attractive and waterretentive edible garden.
Photo by Jillian Steinberger

It’s a fact that kitchen gardens, food forests and homesteads are not eligible for the water agency conservation rebates that are offered for replacing a lawn with drought-tolerant plants. This is because growing food takes a lot of water. But are our victory gardens just a big fat water suck? Of course not. Growing food is a legitimate use of clean water, whereas flushing toilets with it is more than just a little questionable.

Just by applying smart water-saving practices to growing your food, you can buy less commercially grown produce that may have been grown with wasteful irrigation methods. And importantly, when you … Read More

Edible Future: Is Aquaponics the Answer?

A Watsonville company tries to perfect
an infinite loop of food production

Viridis founders Drew Hopkins and Jon Parr

Photography by Michelle Magdalena

Jon Parr is grinning from ear to ear as he shows me rows of floating polystyrene rafts sprouting thousands of heads of showy greens. “Taste this,” he says, tearing off a clump of garden cress. “Isn’t it an amazing combination of sweet and spicy and tangy?”

It was exceptionally tender and delicious. So were the sorrel, watercress, romaine, Bibb and butter lettuces we munched on at Viridis Aquaponics, a company Parr started in Watsonville with a partner, Drew Hopkins, just last August.

Aquaponics is a dirt-free greenhouse growing system in which fish and organic vegetables are raised intensively side by side, with fish waste fertilizing the plants. … Read More


Cima Collina’s Beef’s Joe Morris Annette Hoff

Morris Grassfed Cima Collina’s Beef’s Joe Morris

Without plenty of fresh, clean, affordable water, our region’s farmers would no longer be able to grow the diverse and prolific bounty of produce that makes the Monterey Bay area one of the most important growing regions in the country. So, naturally, long before concerns about fracking surfaced, our farmers were quietly focused on conserving both the quantity and quality of their water. And in the last few years, they have redoubled their efforts.

“Farmers have been good stewards of the land,” says Phil Foster, whose Pinnacle Organics cultivates 250 acres in Hollister and San Juan Bautista and powers its operations with solar energy and biodiesel fuel. “They’re all keeping a close eye on their groundwater. … Read More