Originator of wheatgrass growers is still the best around town

ENCINITAS — For many locals, Mark Bakula is to wheatgrass what Paul Ecke is to poinsettias.
Bakula’s one-acre property in Leucadia produces organic wheatgrass that is sold to retailers from Oceanside to the Mexican border. This includes all Jimbo’s and Robeks stores as well as other coastal businesses such as Ki’s Restaurant, Swami’s Cafe, Surfdog’s Java Hut, Lotus Café & Juice Bar, Mozy Cafe, Juicer’s, Juice Stop and Fountain of Youth Juice. He also offers home delivery for an extra charge.
Wheatgrass is considered “‘the life-blood’ of any good cleanse and the most complete food on the planet today,’” explained expert and grower Michael Bergonzi of Optimum Health Institutes in San Diego.
“Mark was one of the originators of wheatgrass in Southern California,” he said. “He was also one of my teachers.”
What makes Bakula’s organic wheatgrass special, Bergonzi said, is the composting.
“I’ve been in the business for 20 years and Mark’s probably been doing it for 30,” he said. “His wheatgrass is probably better than mine.”
Bakula became interested in wheatgrass in his native Milwaukee, Wis., a place he affectionately refers to as, “The Home of the Triple Bypass: Bratwurst, Beer and Dairy.”
“SAD (standard American diet) is pretty rough on most people,” Bakula said. “I was very toxic, eating a lot of dairy. I had headaches, and kept searching for things to feel better, then discovered raw food, wheatgrass and colonics.”
Bakula started growing wheatgrass for co-ops and health food stores in the dairy state. In 1984 he grew tired of the cold weather and moved to Ocean Beach. He says the wheatgrass market was glutted at the time with growers who had been doing it for years.
Instead, Bakula worked on boats on Shelter Island and later opened a futon store in O.B. He continued to grow wheatgrass for his own consumption and that of his friends.
“In the early 1990s, juice bars started opening up and I began growing it again for the commercial market,” he said. In 1994 he moved to his present address in Leucadia.
Bakula says the most important quality of wheatgrass is its internal cleansing properties.
“It’s so potent that you have to be careful,” he warned. “People will usually have one or two (1-ounce) shots. Some of those who do more than two shots never want to hear the word ‘wheatgrass’ again.”
Wheatgrass is not packaged in bottles or cans because it needs to be consumed shortly after juicing.
“It seems the best things are perishable,” Bakula said.
“In addition to wheatgrass, Bakula sells sunflower greens and fruit trees from his property that thrive in the coastal climate.”
Also known as “Solman,” meaning “Sun Man,” Bakula said his customers are baffled why his wheatgrass seems to taste better than anyone else’s. He says the answer is simple: composting, because it enriches his soil.
“It’s live food,” he said. “Ninety-nine plus percent of the planet eats live foods. Only humans, pets and zoo animals eat cooked food. There are more than 90 nutrients you get from the soil. If you are missing anything, it will fill it in.”
For more information, call Bakula at (760) 94-GRASS (944-7277), e-mail him at solman@cox.net, or visit solman.com. To learn more about wheatgrass, visit wheatgrassgreenhouse.com.

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