Severo Lara, owner of JL & Sons Landscaping in Ojai, is a lifelong resident, father of two and our newest Ojai Valley Green Coalition Board Member.
“Ever since I can remember," said Severo, "my father took my brothers and me to work. He taught us discipline, hard work, and responsibility.” “Those are qualities that makes him an ideal candidate for our Board,” said Executive Director, Russell Sydney, on announcing his addition. “He also has made a long time commitment to the environment in both his business and personal life.”
Members may remember Severo as an Ojai City Council member from 2012 to 2016 who sat as Mayor of Ojai from 2014 to 2015, during which time he also sat on local, county and regional boards/agencies, gaining valuable experience. “I currently sit on the HELP of Ojai Board, Ojai Valley Hospital Foundation Board, the Ojai Valley Democratic Board, the Ojai Valley Museum Board and now proudly on the Ojai Valley Green Coalition Board.”
Severo will be a valued addition, sharing the goal of most small business owners in Ojai: making a living in the small town we all love.
“My father bought our business in June of 1985,” said Severo. “He bought it because he wanted a business that would allow him to teach his sons how to work. I have blurry memories going to work with my father as a very young boy, helping pick up leaves, dragging the trash can behind me, etc. I want to say that I started to really help out when I was about 9 years old.” Thirty years later Severo is proud to be the head of the business and of having made some important changes to the company’s business model.
“I received my BA for Crime, Law and Justice at Pennsylvania State University with a double minor in Spanish and Conflict Dispute Management. When I came back to Ojai after graduating and took over our family landscape business, I worked toward making the business stronger and more efficient - greening the business. “In my business, landscape contractors/gardeners are often convinced and encouraged to use pesticides and herbicides because they are cheaper and easier. I decided after graduating from college that this was not the route I wanted to pursue. I decided to look at gardening as a sustainable model.” He’s successfully done just that.
“My main goal in every account is to not to use any type of pesticides, herbicides, or manmade fertilizer,” said Severo. “I try to analyze the problem and apply material that is organic such as Neem oil, tea spray, horticultural sprays, etc. It varies from account to account due to peoples’ wants or limited budgets - but overall, my main goal is not to use pesticides, herbicides or man-made fertilizers. There are some properties that I maintain where I implement bio-dynamics or horticulture techniques.”
Severo’s goal is to make sure he maintains healthy plants by using organic methods and being proactive. “I do not want to say that it is harder, but it does involve more participation and thinking,” he states. This acknowledgement is typical of his practical hands on approach, one he hopes will be just one model for a more sustainable future in our Valley.
“This is part of what the Green Coalition stands for,” said Severo, already an OVGC business sponsor. “Doing the right thing for sustainability and our Earth by working hard and thinking. Not taking the easy way out.”