St. Helena Harvest Collective has been provided with 2/3 of an acre of fertile land on the Charles Krug property
By definition, sustainability rests on three pillars – People, Planet, and Prosperity. All too often sustainability is simply equated with environmental stewardship, when in fact core to sustainability is the recognition that you cannot have environmental or economic sustainability without social sustainability.
We are launching our series of five #DowntoEarthMonth champion stories with an emphasis on social sustainability and opportunities. The subsequent stories (every Thursday, including Earth Day) will focus on energy and water efficiency, climate action, and zero waste.
At Pine Ridge Vineyards, Viticulture Director Gustavo Aviña heard from some of his team that they had teenagers at home looking for work during summer vacation. They decided to offer them work in the vineyard. Now, from June through September high school juniors and seniors have the opportunity to be employed with their parents and learn about viticulture. In some cases, this may become a springboard to a career in the wine industry. Aviña notes they do have to be sure those under 18 have a work permit and there are work limits of 3-4 days a week, no more than six hours per day. For safety, they are not allowed to operate any power equipment.
Hyde Vineyards employs a 20-person crew year-round. They have found that the dedication of the team, their knowledge of the properties and vines, the quality of the vineyard management and resulting fruit pays dividends over the salaries and benefits. And of course, the job security has benefits for both the employees and their families. Hyde Vineyards largely uses cane pruning, which requires added diligence and man hours to manage. During down-time in the vineyard they do safety trainings and the team transitions to bottling.
A collaboration has developed to provide farmworkers and independent growers with access to cooperative lands where they can grow crops for secondary income. For the first year the “St. Helena Harvest Collective” has been provided with 2/3 of an acre of fertile land on the Charles Krug property. The Arbol chili peppers already have a buyer – Rancho Gordo. The plot will be divided into beds for a few different growers to tend, and is big enough to grow 7,000 peppers. This will be a pilot project with a goal to expand to other employee gardens and plots of land throughout Napa County where property owners are willing to share with the community.
The Napa Valley Reserve is growing seed starters for the Collective. UC Master Gardeners and Napa Climate NOW! are helping to find greenhouses for pilot expansion. Ultimately, the Harvest Collective hopes to partner with local restaurants, schools, hospitals, etc. to provide local food and supplemental income for the Collective members.