Guest post by Raffaella Cerruti:
If you’ve been looking for a non-profit organization working to create access of healthy
and fresh food in San Jose, let Valley Verde be your inspiring story.
About three years ago Raul Lozano, the former executive director of the Latino theater
company in San Jose, Teatro Vision, decided to make a shift in his career by taking part
of the urban agriculture revolution movement. Soon, he realized that in main challenge
in the urban food movement was to reach out to low income communities. Low income
people in the US have less access to an affordable, healthy diet than and their health
is at greater risk from diet related illness as a result. There is a general thinking that
organic gardening is only a hobby for families with the financial means, enticing only
to those who have the time and money for it. Some think that lower-income families
simply can’t be expected to be interested in growing their own food because they lack
the resources or they are time poor because they often work two or more jobs and lack
the energy to maintain a garden. The nonprofit that Raul started in 2011, Valley Verde,
is all about making sure that people have access to good fresh food by providing the
resources and support needed to plant and maintain a home organic garden.
Valley Verde provides low income families with the knowledge and tools needed to
grow and maintain their own organic vegetable gardens. The families receive one or two
raised bed gardens, according to space and family size, an irrigation system, classes
on gardening and nutrition, seeds and seedlings, and a gardening mentor who will
give gardening support for one year. The goal of the one year program is to empower
the families with the vegetable gardening knowledge to continue their own gardens.
Families who wish to share their knowledge can participate in a future Valley Verde
project to help other families learn the same valuable skills.
Valley Verde started last fall with a group of 25 families in Gilroy and now they are
looking for new families in the community of Seven Trees, for the next Spring's planting
season. In order to support and expand the free services offered to the low-income
community, they also started selling garden installations and maintenance services as
well as "do-it-yourself" kits to residents of Santa Clara County who would like to start a
home organic garden.
To illustrate the impact of access to fresh organic vegetables, Raul likes to quote one of
the participants in Gilroy. A mother of two, her children would never eat beets, because
she could only afford to by the canned variety and they did not like the taste. Now that
they grow their own, her children love beets, and the rest of the vegetables that they
grow. We all know that fresh organic vegetable taste better and are better for you and
we believe everyone should have access to those benefits. Raul Lozano has a plan to
start a real revolution for the Silicon Valley. With the help of corporate sponsors and
donations, within 10 years, we want to provide free gardens to as many as 5,000 low
A quote by eco-chef, food justice activist, Bryant Terry, who recently said: “Unless small
start-ups, food incubators and local food movements are equipping the communities
they provide outreach to become their own leaders, directors and ultimately self-
sustaining, you're just playing games". We feel like that is our call to action!
Follow us on facebook