Raul Lozano is the founder and executive director of Valley Verde, our goal is to expand impact/increase sustainability of organic home gardens for low income families in Santa Clara County. Before starting Valley Verde, Raul was the executive director for the Chicano theater company, Teatro Vision for 17 years.
Valley Verde’s community food system model improves access to healthy, organic produce, builds organic gardening skills and reduces food dependence among low/very low income families in Santa Clara County. VV’s community food system model integrates three components to sustain and expand the circle of experienced low-income gardeners: they begin with a one-year intensive home gardening program.
Our new economic development component, the Super Jardineros project – six experienced VV gardeners were recruited to complete a three-year apprenticeship where they germinate culturally preferred seedlings in home nurseries that Valley Verde designed and installed to supply our home garden program with seedlings and sell through retail partnerships. These seedlings fill an unmet market niche, reflecting the cultural preferences of the majority minority county population which are not available in most nurseries.
Through this integrated strategy, we envision that VV gardeners will develop an independent food system of organic produce from germination to harvest that they control – a new tool to reduce the growing divide between haves/have nots across the region.