Sixteen-month-old Arlo Pounds picks a single kale leaf from a row and puts it in his mouth. Arlo’s nimble fingers are great for small batch harvesting — he often picks just a few greens here and there. He’s also an expert in plant durability, stepping through rows of crops to test their strength.

And his parents, Maggie and Adam Pounds, help around the small South Hutchinson farm, too.

The three are a team, according to Adam. He and Maggie began growing microgreens in the basement and front yard of their Hutchinson home in 2015. In 2016, the two expanded to a half-acre lot at 525 N. Poplar in South Hutchinson. The lot included a small building that used to serve as a burger stand but was mostly empty.

The Pounds used 2016 as a preparation year, and grew their first crop in South Hutchinson in 2017, officially christening Simple Abundance Farms.

Coming home to create a home

Both Adam and Maggie are originally from Hutchinson, but traveled around the country — and worked many jobs — before returning to central Kansas to grow greens, vegetables and a family.

The two had overlapping friends and met at a front porch jam session. Adam played with a band but said they lacked something.

“We only knew like one song,” he said. “So we would always beg Maggie to play with us because she made us sound good. She has a beautiful voice.”

The two traveled in a Chevrolet Astro van playing music, then landed in Key West, Florida where Maggie worked at Date and Thyme Natural Foods Market and Adam worked on a sailboat. They also both worked as counselors at Cheley Colorado Camps.

But a love for music and love for adventure isn’t all they shared. Eventually, a love for farming took them both to Present Tense Farms — a four-acre farm near Seattle, Washington — to work as apprentices.

“We went to Seattle to learn urban farming with the intention of coming back to Hutch and growing,” Adam said.

Microgreens and baby veggies

The Pounds have rows of kale, bok choy, arugula, baby radishes and turnips, collard greens and more at Simple Abundance Farms. The lot is fitted with a small greenhouse for starting plants during cold months, and a larger high tunnel that will soon be finished. But the South Hutchinson urban farm wasn’t always as full.

“It really was nothing. Our first year here was all prep,” Adam said. “We grew a cover crop in this area, and at the back, we grew a very tall crop of weeds.”

The Pounds grew their first crop on the property in 2017.

Over the past year, the facility has been fitted with non-freeze hydrants, the high tunnel has been built and planting schedules made. It was a year for the farm to grow but at its own pace.

“What has really worked out for us is going slow and steady,” Maggie said. “It lets us focus on managing waste and not get in over our heads.”

The farm operates on a mostly no-till system. Crops are planted in soil mixed with compost, and tarps are placed over the soil around plants to keep weed growth to a minimum.

To help boost the farm’s profitability, The Pounds choose crops that can be grown in quick succession. Each bed can produce two to four different crop harvests per growing season.

“We do a lot of greens. They are kind of our thing, and we got started growing microgreens,” Adam said. “But we also grow baby root vegetables.”

The family sells its harvest at the Reno County Farmers Market, as well as working with area stores and restaurants — such as Prairie Harvest in Newton.

Cultivating a future

In the coming season, Simple Abundance hopes to continue to grow, and plans to work with a few restaurants in the Wichita area.

“It’s very cool to see what chefs do with your produce,” Maggie said. “It’s like ‘I would have never thought to do that, that’s incredible!’”

Crops of turmeric, sunflowers and ginger are also planned for the upcoming year, but diversified crop and expanded business aren’t the only goals for the farm. The Pounds also want to serve and educate the community more as they go forward.

“A lot of eating healthy or growing your own food is just learning what’s available,” Maggie said. “You can grow greens that are so much more flavorful than what you can get at the store, to the point you don’t really need dressing.

“But when people think about ‘eating your vegetables’ or ‘eating your greens’ they think of a boring old salad.”

The two spoke with other area small farmers last month at a specialty crop workshop hosted in South Hutchinson by the Kansas Rural Center.

Creating a storage area where the public can pick up produce and leave money in a box on an honor system is one goal for Simple Abundance — widening the availability of locally grown food to those with unusual schedules, or who cannot attend the farmers market.

“I feel like we are passionate about advocating for local food,” Adam said. “Our ultimate goal is to get more local growers around here.”

Until then, the family will keep improving as they can.

And Arlo will keep serving as head of quality assurance and taste-test technician.