The Ecology Center Farmers’ Market is home to many lovely vendors and farmers. This week, we caught up with Rudy Jiminez, Maria Gonzalez and Alberto Perez, who are all members of Green Thumb Organics, an organic farm that first started growing produce in 2015.
Stop by the Berkeley Thursday farmers’ market from now until early spring and you may have the chance to grab one of their salsas, made from their produce and house recipe. Green Thumb Organics offers two varieties of salsas: yellow tomatoes and serrano peppers, as well as jalapenos and roma tomatoes. Among their wide assortment of produce, this vendor also has astounding brussel sprouts that come in a range of luscious colors!
Based in San Juan Batista, Green Thumb is now helmed by 21-year-old Rudy Jiminez. Rudy started working with his dad, Roldolfo Jimenez, at age 14 after taking a 1-year course with the Agriculture & Land Based Training Association (ALBA). Rodolfo and Rudy’s farming journey started with .25 acres of land, which eventually grew into the 8 acres that it is today. This work has flourished into what is now Green Thumb, an operation that produces 80 varieties of crops throughout the year and is active at 4 local farmers’ markets, producing community support agriculture (CSA) boxes, as well as offering at-home dropoff.
In addition to his work at Green Thumbs, Rudy is involved with Urban Arts Collective, a non-profit focused on food justice and community art. At the Thursday Farmers’ Market, Green Thumb may appear to be a produce vendor, but they offer so many other resources to the community. Green Thumb is always ready to help promote entrepreneurship, especially for people who may not have access to traditional entrepreneurship incubators.
Plant Based Entrepreneur:
Joining Rudy were Maria Gonzalez and Alberto Perez. Maria is plant based and trained at Le Cordon Bleu. She has used her experience in the industry to start her own business of plant based sausages (named Cali Dawg), as well as offering an incubator to other aspiring food inventors. Cali Dawg is the very first vegan business in Watsonville, but this hasn’t deterred Maria from inspiring and supporting other vegans and people who are just starting out in the industry. You can read more about her work here.
Alberto is the founder of Organic Frisco Drip, a juice business based in the Mission District. This business started during the beginning of the pandemic, as Alberto found himself thinking more and more about health and wellness. They source their veggies from Green Thumb, and their fruits from other local farmers. As you can see on their instagram page, these juices can be enjoyed in a variety of locations!
As Alberto and Maria do a lot in addition to Green Thumb, Rudy is the voice and face of Green Thumb. As all three pointed out, Green Thumb is staying busy, and has recently had a lot to celebrate! During COVID, they have been distributing CSA boxes to those in need, ultimately feeding upwards of 2,000 community members. These efforts focused specifically on chefs and their families who were directly impacted by the pandemic. In Salinas, Green Thumb distributed over 300 CSA boxes to low income individuals. They’ve been selling their organic produce at the Ecology Center Farmers’ Market for 2 years. We’re not sure what the next 2 years will bring, but we know that Green Thumb’s delicious brussel sprouts and enduring work in the community will always be a given.