Shaun and Crystal founded Lopez Heirloom Plants out of their San Jose, California home in 2016.  With the help of their daughters Lauren and Dylan, Shaun and Crystal source heirloom and organic seeds. Then, the family cultivates rare plants to sell to their customers. All of the proceeds are donated to Second Harvest, and this year they raised $1,600! We were intrigued and met with them to learn more.

From left to right: Bernadette White, Second Harvest Food Bank Community Relations Officer, Dylan, Lauren, Shaun and Crystal Lopez, Lopez Heirloom Plants

Crystal and Shaun, tell us a bit about yourselves.

We were both born and raised in Southern California. In 2009, our jobs moved us to the Bay Area. We both work in the wine industry where we are responsible for sales for our respective portfolios. Outside of work, our passion is growing rare, heirloom plants in our home garden. We have two daughters, Lauren and Dylan, who are 5 and 3 and have very diverse palettes. This is probably because our family loves cooking. We eat at home 80% of the time (that’s also one of the reasons why we started Lopez Heirloom Plants!). We love eating fresh, organic food. Every day when our girls come home from daycare, they love going to the garden to pick what we will be eating.

Lauren and Dylan

What’s a surprising fact about you two?

We were the 2017 Champions of the Eggs by the Bay Eggfest, one of the top “Big Green Egg only” food festivals in the country. The event is held each spring at Saratoga Springs.

How did you start Lopez Heirloom Plants?

We started out with a few plants each year and eventually caught the gardening bug! When we bought our home in San Jose in 2014, we converted our side yard into a large home garden. At first, we were thinking of going with a for-profit company but then decided to turn our passion into a labor of love and community service. We do not take any profits from our sales.

Some of the beautiful Lopez Heirloom Plants sold this year

Anything that didn’t go as planned?                                                            

When we first were trying to grow plants we bought seeds from Amazon, and it was horrible!

Why is it important for you to give back and why do you choose to fight hunger?

We both come from modest backgrounds. We never went without, but we did not have the excess that a lot of kids in this area have today. We are giving back because we are fortunate to be in a position to do so. Who knows, maybe someday we will need help too!

We also want to teach our girls about the simple things in life like working hard, taking care of things you love and giving back to the community. We want them to be aware that there are a lot of people in Silicon Valley who don’t have enough to eat and need help. Food, especially delicious, organic, healthy food is expensive.

The satisfaction of growing healthy, delicious produce can be seen in Lauren’s eyes!

Lauren and Dylan are working hard to fundraise for Second Harvest

Why did you decide to fundraise for Second Harvest Food Bank?
This was never a question for us and just came naturally! We knew about Second Harvest Food Bank and had heard great things in the community.

How do you select the plants you will be offering each year?

We buy seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds in Petaluma. They offer over 1,800 varieties and unique seeds from over 100 countries. Our choices are based off of our geographic location, what sells well and also what is really unique. Some of our favorite things to grow are tomatoes, watermelons, cucumbers, and kale.

Where do you sell your plants?

So far, it’s been a combination of word-of-mouth sales, knocks on doors, and pop-up events we hold at Barre3 in Willow Glen. Our plant sale happens once a year between February and the end of April.

Why did you choose a goal of $1,600 to raise for Second Harvest Food Bank this year?

The first year we sold plants, we raised $800. This year, we wanted to challenge ourselves and double that money, which we successfully did.

Some of the plants sold this year

What do you like most about running Lopez Heirloom Plants?

We love seeing how excited our girls are to watch our garden grow, to see the plants change colors. They help us with seed planting and watering, and eventually they will be the ones taking care of this company. It’s been very rewarding!

Dylan watering plants

Lauren planting seeds

Thank you Crystal, Shaun, Lauren and Dylan for all you do!