Our Team

Vicente Lara, MPH – Executive Director

Vicente joins Mesa Verde Gardens following several years of community organizing in Salinas and Central Coast for the Environmental Justice Coalition for Water (EJCW). Vicente led EJCW's effort to build institutional capacity to advance the human right to water in Central Coast communities. He holds a Master's degree in Public Health from UCLA, with an emphasis on community-based health education and health metrics. Vicente is bilingual and lives with his wife and daughter in the Salinas Valley.


Liz Milazzo – Garden/Orchard Manager

Liz joins Mesa Verde Gardens after serving as Apprenticeship Instructor at the CASFS Farm at UC Santa Cruz for many years, and managing/working in organic fields for 25 years.  As Garden/Orchard Coordinator, Liz is tending to the ecology of the garden sites, working behind the scenes to keep the gardens supplied with drip tape and compost, and caring for the fruit trees, native plants, and borders and edges.  Liz is passionate about seed saving, building seed resiliency, and honoring cultural resources and indigenous foodways.  Liz was an active member of Dearborn Community Garden in San Francisco in the 1980’s.  She lives in Santa Cruz, where she also does organic farm inspections for a 3rd-party certifier, and is cultivating medicinal herbs in a large urban garden. 


Abel Herrera – Facilities Manager

Abel Herrera learned traditional farming growing up in Guerrero, Mexico.  Skilled in many trades, Abel has applied his talents to building much of the infrastructure of the Mesa Verde Gardens, laying irrigation pipe, building gates and installing fences, and much more!  Abel is the go-to person for fixing irrigation breaks, assisting gardeners with their drip tape, making sure cover crop is planted in the fall, and working to reclaim the garden spaces in spring with a mower and weed wacker.  Abel is the keeper of traditional varieties of corn, beans, and squash, which he shares widely.  Abel is a welcoming presence in the gardens, friend, and champion to all!

Mesa Verde Gardens is a community-based program, run primarily by our own member families and Peer Leaders.