San Jose man’s nonprofit provides families with ability to grow their own food

SAN JOSE — A San Jose man has been supporting reduced-revenue households plant seeds of self-sufficiency as they understand to develop their possess residence gardens.

“I take pleasure in wanting at how it is really from seeds and sprouting every thing until finally the fruit I can harvest,” explained resident Chingfen Huang, marveling at how her San Jose backyard has reworked from an vacant, squandered area into a stunning, thriving garden that nourishes her system and spirit.

Huang is grateful to Raul Lozano, who back in 2011 was heartbroken to listen to about individuals having difficulties in the economic downturn.

“Men and women ended up losing their work, dropping their properties. It was just bad,” Lozano mentioned.

He commenced teaching minimal-cash flow households in Santa Clara County to expand natural and organic home gardens to fight foods insecurity.

“I was making an attempt to figure out a way exactly where individuals could increase their possess foodstuff and observe food sovereignty,” he said.

Which is when Lozano’s nonprofit, Valley Verde, took root. The program will take on about 100 people every yr for just one calendar year. They get free of charge seeds, seedlings, soil, planter containers if necessary, and workshops to educate people what to do.

The method is funded with donations, grants and proceeds from its nursery that also sells to the public.

Kalpana, who didn’t want to use her past identify, feels empowered, feeding her family members wholesome produce from her home harvest.

“As you improve, you discover a whole lot about nutrition expanding your own food stuff, and staying unbiased,” she stated.

See also  Smith: Tortillas, corn or flour, known for their versatility | Food and Cooking

And Lozano reported family members conserve cash on their annually grocery bill, far too: an ordinary $400-$700 a calendar year among individuals.

One particular of the distinctive items about Valley Verde is that it grows seedlings typically made use of in ethnic food items, this kind of as lemongrass which is frequently utilised in Southeast Asian cooking.

Much more than 70 p.c of the program’s people are immigrants, and early on, they asked Lozano to expand multi-ethnic fruit and veggies, so he’s included goods like Thai basil and tomatillos – crucial ingredients for preserving their tradition.

“A single of the main things they are ready to keep on to, their heritage – who they are, instruct their children – is through their foodstuff,” Lozano mentioned.

Workers member Rita Espinoza, who manages the gardening applications, says Lozano bends in excess of backward to ensure home gardeners have all the sources and assistance they will need to succeed.

“He is incredibly passionate about the get the job done and he cares for family members in will need,” Espinoza stated.

Lozano provides persons a gift from the ground up. The gardening ability that he realized as a little one, and cultivated as a soothing hobby now sustains area family members.

“It is really way more fulfilling than I at any time imagined it would be,” Lozano reported.

So for planting seeds of self-sufficiency for small-money households, this week’s Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Raul Lozano.