Mission & Vision

Mission

Promoting healthy eating and economic justice in the Pajaro Valley by supplying sustainably farmed, affordable produce for traditionally excluded people of limited income, grown by former farmworkers newly trained in organic practices.

Vision

We envision a healthy, localized food system based on food sovereignty, work with dignity, and stewardship of the environment.

Esperanza Community Farms is a system-changing, sustainable community agriculture project focused entirely and directly on increasing food security and good health among low-income families from under-resourced communities in the Pajaro Valley. We cultivate fresh, pesticide-free, culturally preferred vegetables and fruit varieties, then deliver bi-weekly boxes of produce directly to members’ homes via a subsidized Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. Primary access options for members are use of SNAP benefits OR direct payment.

Meet our team

Mireya Gomez-Contreras

Mireya Gomez-Contreras

Co-leader

I am a mother of two curious and fun children and I have three sisters. I’ve lived in Watsonville, California for almost 30 years and my favorite thing about living here is the passion & pride of the predominantly Latino community as well as the work ethic of a culturally diverse small rural city. As a little girl I grew up working alongside my farm laborer parents in the San Joaquin Valley and the Central Coast in California. I think I inherited my mom’s green thumb because I landed very naturally in the agriculture sector and I love everything about it. I studied at UC Santa Cruz and received my BA in Sociology with a minor in education. After 27 years of working in the regional nonprofit sector I found my professional niche as a Language and Cultural Consultant. At Esperanza Community Farms I am able to practice my values of interdependence, dignity and joy for all. Most of all I enjoy the farm’s focus on family and the invitation to connect more deeply with people and the earth. At Esperanza I’m able to combine my personal interests, professional goals and my vision for a healthy community.

Guillermo Lazaro

Guillermo Lazaro

Co-leader

I am originally from Oaxaca, Mexico and a father of two teenagers. Since I was little I was raised in a farming environment. That may be the reason it was natural for me to enter the agriculture sector when I came to the Central Coast region in California. After 12 years as a farm laborer I became curious about becoming a grower and wondered about the possibility of working for myself. I was drawn to the opportunity to grow organic and natural produce. As I learned more about organic farming it changed my way of thinking. In 2018 I entered an intensive 4-year organic farming training program and I received my Certified Organic Farmer certificate. The training program, Agriculture and Land-based Training Association (ALBA) opened the door for me to obtain this certificate and taught me about organic practices. I’ve lived in the Salinas Valley, also referred to as the Salad Bowl of the country, for 21 years. When I’m not farming I enjoy going to the beach, exercising and spending time with my kids.

portrait of samantha cruz

Samantha Cruz

Communications & Marketing

Inspirada por la naturaleza, la música y las risas voy por la vida creando y poniendo mi granito de arena a todo aquel negocio/persona que necesite de una buena publicidad o un diseño.

Estudié en Ciudad de México, Ciencias de la Comunicación, teniendo gran interés en la publicidad y la producción audiovisual. Creo infinitamente en que el trabajo en equipo hace cosas maravillosas.

Inspired by nature, music and laughter I go through life creating and doing my job for any business or person that needs good publicity or a design.

I studied Communication Sciences in Mexico City, and I have a Bachelor in Communication Sciences. Having a great interest in advertising and audiovisual production. I infinitely believe that teamwork does wonderful things.

Abel Gonzalez

Farm Manager

Originario de Acapulco, Guerrero, Abel llegó a Watsonville, California hace 35 años y desde entonces ha trabajado arduamente para salir adelante haciendo lo que más le gusta, trabajar en el campo, cosechando y preparando frutos para consumo, pero también ha estado en la construcción, otra de sus pasiones. Él tiene 66 años y la mitad de su vida ha sido entre surcos, cosechas y grandes experiencias en la agricultura. Sus ratos libres los ocupa preparando el pequeño huerto que tiene en casa, donde cosecha sus propias verduras y fruta. Estuvo 10 años en Mesa Verde, una organización de jardineros urbanos que construyen acceso a alimentos saludables en Watsonville. Aportando sus conocimientos y habilidades, hoy en día tiene 3 años como Manager en Esperanza Community Farms.

Abel is originally from Acapulco, Guerrero, he arrived in Watsonville, California 35 years ago and since then he has worked hard to get ahead doing what he likes the most, working in the fields, harvesting and preparing fruits for consumption, but he has also been in construction, another of his passions. He is 66 years old and half of his life has been between furrows, harvests and great experiences in agriculture. His free time is spent preparing the small garden he has at home, where he grows his own vegetables and fruit. He spent 10 years at Mesa Verde, an organization of urban gardeners who built access to healthy food in Watsonville. Contributing his knowledge and skills, today he has 3 years as Manager at Esperanza Community Farms.

Javier (Paco)

Javier (Paco)

Member Engagement Specialist

I was born in Mexico City where a surreal air flows through the streets, creating amazing stories and pictures. That air inspires me every day in my work as an editor and cinematographer, and motivates me to keep learning every day in order to bring the best quality to the projects. I love photography, music, and movies. I'm a foodie and a fan of tea. I'm a dog lover and I love to do drone photography as a hobby.

Advisory Board

Candy Moreira

Candy Moreira

Advisory Board Member

Candy Moreira was born and raised in Watsonville. She is dedicated to improving the health of people in her community and passionate about increasing access to fresh, healthy produce. She recently completed her RN degree and works at Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula.

Ana Rasmussen

Ana Rasmussen

ADVISORY BOARD MEMBER

For more than 30 years Ana has worked toward social justice and increased equity in Santa Cruz County—in health care, public education, food justice, and land access. She is grateful for the daily opportunities to learn and grow in relationship with people from backgrounds, traditions, strengths, and lived-experience different than my own. Ana is the mother of two 30-something sons who live locally, and companion to one affectionate, beloved dog.

Olga Medrano

Olga Medrano

Advisory Board Member

Olga Medrano came to Watsonville as an immigrant at the age of 35. She has worked in early childhood education for many years. Olga has been an Esperanza Community Farms CSA member from the beginning. She is mother to three adult children, grandmother to one.

Maria Gonzalez

Advisory Board Member

Maria Gonzalez has served as the Kitchen Manager at Loaves and Fishes since 2003. Cooking is her love and helping those less fortunate is her passion. Watsonville has been her home for more than twenty years. She is mother to three beautiful girls.

Kevin Heuer

Kevin Heuer

Advisory Board Member

Kevin Heuer is the Director of Engagement & Impact at Community Foundation Santa Cruz County. Prior to joining the Foundation, he was Chief Operations Officer of Second Harvest Food Bank Santa Cruz County. He holds a Masters of Nonprofit Administration. He is father to three young children.

Ramiro Medrano

Ramiro Medrano

Advisory Board Member

Ramiro Medrano was born and raised in Watsonville. He is an intervention counselor at Pajaro Valley High School and has worked for over 15 years with and for the immigrant community. He is father to two curious girls.