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Home Garden Program

Valley Verde

Providing training and tools to fight food insecurity is the goal of San Jose’s Valley Verde. The agency works with high-need, low-income communities to teach families how to grown their own fresh vegetables at home. Since 2012, Valley Verde has provided training, supplies, and seedlings – at no cost – to turn more than 500 urban backyards into thriving vegetable gardens.

A recent Farrington grant provided funding for Valley Verde’s Home Garden program. In 2020, the agency enrolled 113 Santa Clara County households in Home Garden training courses. Due to Covid restrictions, instructional workshops were presented in English and Spanish via online videos, with printable education guides on topics including organic gardening, climate change, healthy eating, and recipes for using seasonal vegetables. A total of 152 people graduated from the program. The graduate families were then supplied with the resources to build and enjoy their gardens, including: materials to build 67 new garden beds, plus 23 more that met ADA requirements; supplies including 1,638 bags of organic soil and compost; and a total of 1,358 organic seedlings. Valley Verde volunteers grew the seedlings, many of which were “culturally-preferred,” i.e., vegetables tailored to the ethnic cuisines of the gardeners.

Growing organic vegetables in a home garden

Based on Valley Verde’s year-end evaluations, 93% of families reported increased access to fresh vegetables due to participating in the program. In addition, 96% reported being able to prepare healthier meals, and a marked increase in fresh vegetable consumption. Best of all, 70% reported that since joining the program, one or more family members had charted improvements in health conditions including high blood pressure, depression/anxiety, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and/or high cholesterol.

Mom always said, “Eat your vegetables!” Through the simple act of growing a garden, Valley Verde families are enjoying self-sufficiency and better health. They have also acquired valuable organic gardening knowledge and skills to last a lifetime.