Valley Verde has built on the success of the Home Gardening program with the Super Jardineros (Super gardeners) a 3 year apprenticeship program, an opportunity for some of our most dedicated gardeners to gain professional-level horticultural skills and increase their income through a small business model while contributing to the sustainability of the community and the organization.
Valley Verde provides the participants with custom mini-greenhouses that are installed in the Super Jardineros backyards, these greenhouses have a production capacity of 500 seedlings per spring and winter season.
One unique aspect of this program is that the Super Jardineros learn to propagate seedlings and at the same time grow seedlings that reflect the cultural preferences of Santa Clara County's largest ethnic groups, i.e. Mexican, Vietnamese, Indian, Chinese, and Filipino. They grow seedlings; such as bok choy, chayote, epazote, and okra; which are not readily available in local nurseries.
A Valley Verde Greenhouse professional also provides training in nursery care and one-on-one support to monitor the process of growing commercial quality seedlings.
The Super Jardineros have become the seedlings growers and providers for our organic gardening program families. Growing quality seedlings they can provide 1/3 of the seedlings we give to our participant families each season; now including the culturally preferred vegetables and herbs.
Valley Verde purchases these quality seedlings which means disposable income for these families in training.
Valley Verde gardeners are building on their cultural traditions while taking leadership roles in the growing urban agriculture movement.
SOCIAL BUSINESS MODEL
Along with benefiting the broader community by providing access to culturally preferred seedlings, we foresee this model as a way to build a community food system and circular economy, through which Valley Verde becomes a sustainable organization and community.
We teach our families, and Super Jardineros specialized job skill, we provide them with the possibility of earning additional income, while diversifying the seedling market and providing access to culturally preferred vegetables.
Scaling this project into a food system and generating an income stream, will allow us to reach more families, and create more leadership and entrepreneurship opportunities to revitalize low-income communities.