Volunteer of the month: Roberto Martinez


Roberto Martinez, is our go to chicken expert at the farm. He can be found tending to the flock and helping with various construction projects on many Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Enjoy Roberto's life story, and how he came to be a go to volunteer at the farm.

The background Story:
"I was born in Laredo, TX and my family moved to Houston shortly thereafter where I lived for 33 years. I married and, as a result of the oil bust in the late 80's, moved my family to Pembroke Pines, FL. I lived in South FL for another 25 years fishing offshore, scuba diving, growing orchids, tropical fruits and just loving living in a sub-tropical climate in general.

After my divorce and early retirement, I traveled around the country for a few years then came out West to help my cousin in Santa Cruz get through her chemotherapy treatments for her breast cancer. While there, I met my current girlfriend and moved to San Jose where she lived. 

In my spare time, I camp, hike and bike in the surrounding parks and green spaces, maintain the yards and gardens of friends, volunteer at Our City Forest's tree nursery and tend / manage the Veggielution chicken flock. Meanwhile, I continue to search for meaningful and rewarding work.

All of my "brick and mortar" schooling occurred in Houston, TX. I hold a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration and have over 30 years of pre- and post sales technical support for a wide variety of computer products. My "schooling" continues to this day however as I strive to learn something everyday that I did not know the day before.

I am the father of 3 young adults, was married for over 35 years to the same woman continuously, have owned multiple rental properties, built my own custom 6,000 sq foot estate home, and, at one point in my life, had 7 mortgages in my name. After my divorce, I decided to alter the direction my life was taking so now I focus on collecting friends and learning experiences instead of things and money.

Currently, my goals are to become conversationally functional in Spanish, learn as much as I can about the flora and fauna here in the West and focus on the next stage of my life -- moving to Costa Rica for a few years. After that, we will see what develops."

Roberto's involvement at the farm:
"I had been volunteering at Our City Forest's tree nursery for about 6 months and wanted to spend more time with fruits and vegetables instead of just trees. While self-studying Spanish, I came across an article in a Spanish newspaper about Veggielution. There was a website at the bottom of the article and the rest is history."

His many reasons for volunteering at the farm:
"There are several reasons I volunteer at the farm: meeting people of all ages with a like-mind towards out environment and making new friends, getting off of the couch and getting my hands dirty with rewarding outdoor activities. Passing on life-skills I have acquired during the course of my life to those that show an interest. Having a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day and just getting some healthy sunshine and exercise.

My favorite memory at the farm was finishing the replacement of the chicken yard fence and the remodeling of the hen house. It gave me a great deal of satisfaction looking at what I was able to achieve, mostly by myself. When I first started coming out to the farm, I saw a need that I knew I could have a positive impact on. Looking back, the positive impact actually went both ways."

Roberto's favorite veggies and recipes:
"There are 2 actually - the yellow meat tomatoes and the white/yellow corn. As for a recipe, as far as I am concerned, there is no better way to enjoy these two vegetables than to sit down in the shade of big tree on a warm summer afternoon and eat them slowly with your eyes closed "out of hand" while letting their deliciousness wrap around you like a warm blanket on a cold night."

Thank you Roberto for leaving a lasting impact on the farm. We are grateful for all of the time and knowledge that you put in to make our community a better place!

Interview by Nina Vuoso
Youth Education Coordinator