Founder and Executive Director
The Executive Director oversees the project design and implementation. Raul is the founder of Valley Verde. Prior to founding Valley Verde 6 years ago, he created and led another urban gardening organization, La Mesa Verde. He is a Master Gardener with more than 15 years of experience in nonprofit leadership and is a senior fellow of American Leadership Forum Silicon Valley. Raul attended San Jose State University with a lifelong commitment to supporting San Jose’s most vulnerable communities.
Palta (Avocado) Enthusiast
Ana Beatriz Lemus-Monterola
Passion Fruit Enthusiast
Beatriz graduated from Santa Clara University with a degree in Environmental Studies. She is passionate about growing organic seedlings and sharing the wonders of gardening with others. Her experience at the Forge Garden inspired her to find a path in urban agriculture. She believes that we should know where our food comes from, and how our daily food choices affect the environment and the food system. She is excited to be at Valley Verde growing food for low-income families and growing ethnically appropriate seedlings that our communities can benefit from. Favorite veggie: Tomates!
Program Coordinator, San Jose Home Garden Program
Chicharo and Yarrow Enthusiast
The Program Coordinator manages the home garden program, recruits families, and provides organic gardening workshops for program participants. Vanessa grew up in the suburbs of Los Angeles in a small town called Azusa, CA. As a recent graduate from Santa Clara University, she majored in Environmental Studies and developed a strong passion for environmental justice issues. She previously worked for the California Native Garden Foundation, another gardening nonprofit located in San Jose, as the community outreach director and Nature Camp manager. Vanessa believes that gardening is a great source for increasing physical, mental, and overall personal health. If she isn’t visiting the home gardens around San Jose, she is brewing a nice cup of tea and practicing yoga.
Program Coordinator, Gilroy Home Garden Program
The Program Coordinator manages the home garden program, recruits families, and provides organic gardening workshops for program participants. On weekdays you can catch him working at our Finca but on weekends you might run into him trying to identify or photograph a wildflower off of a trail-head. Hector graduated from Santa Clara University with a degree in Environmental Science. His passion for organic gardening comes from his love for working with plants and an interest in studying sustainability, health, and biodiversity as each relates to agriculture. He hopes to use organic gardening as a tool to develop a sense of community and an awareness of environmental issues with the families he works with in Gilroy.
Macario “Numero Uno” Ortiz