Meet Our Team

Shawn Harrison

Founder & Co-Director

Shawn is the founder and co-director of Soil Born Farms, a non-profit urban farming and education center located in Sacramento, CA. Through its urban farm, programs and partnerships, Soil Born Farms works to create a more sustainable and equitable food system for the Sacramento region. Shawn’s work in organic agriculture and local food systems development began in 1993 as an organic farming apprentice. In 1997, he completed the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS) apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture and holds an M.S. degree in International Agriculture Development from U.C. Davis. Shawn founded Soil Born Farms in 2000 and has been recognized for his leadership in the local food system with several awards including the 2009 recipient of Valley Vision’s Regional Environmental Legacy Award and the UC Davis Alumni Award of Distinction in 2011.

Janet Zeller

Founder & Co-Director

Janet has been an activist and educator promoting local family farms, sustainable agriculture, organic food, healthy living and socially conscious business practices for over 30 years. Janet was the director of operations for the Good Earth, opening and managing restaurants in Northern California and Oregon. She was the marketing manager for the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op for 22 years. Janet earned a degree in Communications Studies at CSUS with a focus on interpersonal and intercultural communication. She is a trained mediator and facilitator. Janet is committed to connecting the people who grow food with the people who eat it and creating a local food system where everyone has access to fresh, healthy, organically grown food.

Shannon HardwickeShannon Hardwicke

Youth Education Manager

Shannon manages our Youth Education Program, facilitating teacher training, curriculum development for school gardens and staff development. She has worked on school gardens for 10 years now using her experience in community development with a passion to develop, equip and sustain successful school garden programs. In addition, Shannon provides oversight to the youth education programs including 10 school gardens, daily farm field trips, summer camps, teen empowerment, internships, youth cooking experiences and regional school garden program development. (photo: Joan Cusick)

Michelle SikoraMichelle Sikora

Cooking & Nutrition Coordinator

Michelle was born and raised in Sacramento. She graduated from CSUS in 2012 with a degree in Food and Nutrition and a minor in Child Development. While attending college she also earned a certificate from CSUS in Family Life Education. Michelle was introduced to Soil Born Farms when selected for an internship related to her field of study and fell in love with the goals of improving healthy food access to all and making a difference within her community. Through a separate internship with the Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services, she has seen firsthand how important organizations like Soil Born Farms can be. Michelle has always had a passion for cooking and nutrition and has found a place where she can focus her education and interests simultaneously. (photo: Joan Cusick)

TylerTyler Stowers


Tyler’s interests in agriculture started in the kitchens of Berkeley’s Chez Panisse restaurant where he worked while attending college. Awestruck and intrigued by the flavor and quality of the produce he was eating, he looked to the fields from whence they came to learn more. There he found eccentric plant whisperer Bob Cannard and his farmer training program, Green String Institute. In an attempt to learn how to grow incredible food like Bob’s, Tyler enrolled at Green String in the spring of 2011. There he had his ‘eureka’ moment discovering food’s connection to seemingly everything in the cosmos and his farm journey began. Since then, Tyler has apprenticed and worked at farms in Northern California and Southern Oregon before returning home to the Sacramento area to pursue his own farm dreams. Tyler started working for Soil Born in the early spring of 2016.

Pictured: Emily HainEmily Hain

Greenhouse and Fruit Tree Nursery Manager

Emily joined the Soil Born team in 2019 after graduating from UC Davis with degrees in Agricultural and Environmental Education and Spanish. During her time at the farm she has worked both on the youth education team as well as in the greenhouse. She has always had a strong passion for being outside, both exploring and protecting the earth as well as supporting her community. She is a home gardener and lover of team sports and crafting.

VanessaVanessa Forwood

Community Relations & Development Manager

Vanessa spent her elementary school years in the Sierra Nevada foothills of Placer County exploring and playing make-believe with her brother and friends. As a teenager, she lived in various group homes throughout Ventura County. This experience taught her how to advocate for her needs and the needs of others, the importance of youth empowerment and the healing nature of community. As a young adult, she worked at one corporation for over 9 years but found the work unsatisfying. She returned to school and earned a Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems at University of California, Davis. While working on her degree, she interned as a farmhand for over a year at Pacific Star Gardens, a family-owned and run farm in Woodland. During this internship she discovered the healing power of getting her hands dirty, smelling the soil, working hard and observing life cycles. She found farm work to be the ultimate way to connect with people and to build community. When she discovered that the Growing Together program at Soil Boil Farms worked at Title I schools in South Sacramento, she contacted us to become an intern. The internship led to a position on the Youth Education team where she shares her passion for farms and gardens with students every day.

Gina Marraccini

Chef Educator

Gina was born in Sacramento and raised in Roseville. She received a bachelor’s degree in Food Science from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. She stayed in SLO for eight years working as a chef, falling in love with the ocean, hiking and connecting with nature. Her dog/soulmate Royce, was gifted to her and has been her sidekick and travel buddy ever since. Before moving back home to be closer to family, Gina took a month-long solo trip to the jungles of Costa Rica, studied yoga and became a 200-hr certified yoga instructor. Costa Rica opened her eyes to healthier living and a raw diet that changed her life and overall health. Janet heard of Gina’s new discoveries and they both felt that working at the farm would be a great way to share her experiences and teach the public about preparing healthy food.

Lisette Aguilar

Saturday Crew & Graphic Designer

Lisette was born and raised in the suburbs of the Sacramento Valley. Her interests in agriculture and sustainability led her to adapt skills of growing her own produce straight from her garden. Thus, declaring her minor in environmental horticulture for her college studies as she is planning to transfer to a 4-year university. Her passions not only led her to work-trade and volunteer at Soil Born Farms, but she also shows her creativity through designing all handwritten signs for our Farmstand. She enjoys the message that Soil Born Farms contributes to the local community of supporting local food systems through sharing farm fresh organic produce.

Shobha Giri-Thomas

Saturday Crew

Shobha is the daughter of Basanta Bahadur Giri and Durga Devi Giri, born and raised in Pokhara, Nepal. She grew up in Hindu culture hearing Bhagavad Gita and other wisdom stories from religious books. She is inspired by her dad’s philosophy, keep soul and soil always pure, and Simplicity in Life is her mantra. Shobha graduated with her Bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Kalika Multiple Campus in 2012 and has working experience in accounting and management. She moved to California with her husband Kevin in December 2020. Soil Born Farms is the best place she found where she can pursue all her official skills, connect to nature and be reminded of home. She feels blessed for the opportunity to work in a team of people with a positive attitude. Shobha enjoys doing meditation, yoga, reading books, cooking Nepali food, writing poems, hiking and traveling.

Jessica Pollock

Financial Manager

Jessica grew up in the Sacramento/Elk Grove area, where she worked in the retail and financial sectors for about 15 years before leaving the corporate world to spend time with her growing family and venture into more creative and fulfilling work as an entrepreneur. Being immersed in the wedding and event industry for several years gave her deeper insight into the value of relationships and how each person can potentially make a difference in their community. Having volunteered regularly throughout her adult life, and now surrounded by small business owners and non-profit founders, she found herself drawn to directly helping non-profit organizations. After years of volunteering in various capacities with a local animal rescue, she stepped into the role of managing the facility and overseeing its feline residents, which proved to be an incredible combination of joy, gratitude and heartache. Eventually, her passion for gardening, animals and sustainable practices brought her to Soil Born Farms, where she enjoys being a part of an organization that connects with and cherishes the community it serves.

Gary Hare


Gary, originally from Selma, Alabama, grew up in Rancho Cordova with the American River Parkway as his playground. He has always had a special connection with the land and wildlife along the American River and has been happy to see Soil Born Farms become a valued part of that landscape. He wears many hats: an artist, general contractor, amateur birder, woodworker, fisherman, husband, and father to an amazing daughter. He is an associate of hammerdirt, an organization focused collecting data on litter in California waterways. As a volunteer at Soil Born, Gary has enjoyed greeting and getting to personally know many of the visitors to the farm and loves that he can continue to do that as well as offer his talents and skills to the farm as a staff member.

Steven Law

Farm and Events Assistant

Steven has lived most of his life in the Sacramento area. After high school he went to tech school for motorcycle mechanics. While working in the motorcycle industry he attended Sierra College in Rocklin with a focus on environmental studies and psychology. Before coming to Soil Born Farms, Steven served as a special services provider for a deaf and blind homeowner who started a permaculture garden. This time gave both experience with the natural world and an opportunity to expand capacity for understanding, acceptance, and compassion. Soil Born Farms’ commitment to education, community, and the environment are in alignment with Steven’s core values and he has the privilege to work with an exceptional staff.

Elizabeth Powell

Grant Writer

Elizabeth joined Soil Born Farms’ grant writing team in 2015 and works remotely from her home in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Elizabeth began gardening in her great-grandmother’s flower beds, was hooked on organic farming during college, and received a B.A. in Sustainable Communities and Ecological Agriculture from New College of California. Since that time she has worked in many parts of local food systems including running a multi-farm CSA, coordinating a beginning farmer training program, and operating her own produce farm for 12 years. She is driven by a belief in the power of sustainable agriculture to care for the planet, and thinks that if we can just grow enough kale and kohlrabi the world will still be a beautiful place for our kids.

Pictured: Stuart Burke-JonesStuart Burke-Jones

Gardens & Volunteer Coordinator

Recently returned from the East coast Stuart shares his joy and passion for regenerative urban farming with anyone willing to lend an ear. Catch him in the market garden growing a variety of crops, or in the compost corner turning piles, maybe in the orchard with a group of volunteers. Wherever you find Stuart he’ll surely welcome and engross you in this wonderful property that he gets to call his place of work.

Pictured: Thomas LyonsThomas Lyons

Farm Manager

Thomas moved to Sacramento from the East coast in 2022. He is a Veteran of the Navy Nuclear Program with a background in maintenance of industrial machinery. He graduated from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst with a Bachelor’s of Science in Sustainable Food and Farming with a focus on soil fertility and permaculture design. While studying at UMass Amherst he received his Permaculture Design Certificate and co-managed the UMass Student Farm. Thomas’s passion is to grow healthy food, regeneratively, and provide access to this produce to underserved communities. It is this passion that matched Thomas with Soil Born Farms and the effort to provide food access and exemplify what a regenerative farm looks like, both from a land management perspective and the community built around this organization.

Pictured: Thomas EfstratisThomas Efstratis

Farmer & Pack Lead

Tom was born and raised in Sacramento. He started his college journey in Tahoe then transferred to Santa Barbara for Business Recreation. He found his love for gardening and propagating succulents on the cliffs of Isla Vista. Growing his own food became a passion he moved on to a culinary career while growing all the things not found in typical urban gardens. His familys’ influence in Agriculture stems back to his “Puna” or “Kupunawahine” which is grandmother in Hawaiian who owned a Ranch and rice fields in Browns Valley, CA. Tom has found a way to express his love for both growing and cooking the foods he loves at Soil Born Farms.

Pictured: Elizabeth SteinerElizabeth Steiner


Liz grew up exploring the rivers and forests of Northern California with a sense of wonder but didn’t hear a call to a career in agricultural ecology until later in life. Her early professional days were spent managing businesses in the Sacramento region, later transitioning to a role in administrative support for educational leadership and business administration programs at Sacramento State. While working on campus she studied Environmental Science. A professor connected her to the many volunteer opportunities at Soil Born Farm (SBF) in 2016.

Liz’s experience volunteering at SBF turned out to be life changing. It illuminated the path to the restorative potential of regenerative agriculture and its vital role as a nexus between ecological, human, and social health. She began soaking up pragmatic local farming resources too, completing Agricultural Skills courses with Sierra Harvest and the UC Cooperative Extension while farming in stints with World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. In 2022 she was thrilled to be accepted into the Rodale Institute’s immersive regenerative organic farmer training program in Pennsylvania. Liz spent 2022 studying regenerative organic agriculture on nearly 50 organic farming operations from Vermont to North Carolina. She is delighted to be collaborating to rejuvenate our local ecosystems and the health of the community with the remarkable SBF team.

Pictured: Ivy ChenIvy Chen

Cook and Educator

Ivy was born and raised in Taiwan. She has been living in the States since 2012. Her passion towards holistic health led her to New Mexico, where she received a certificate of two-year of studying in Ayurvedic medicine. She loves cooking and feeding people. She believes food as medicine, and kitchen as temple. The energy in the kitchen can impact the energy of meals. As a cook in Soil Born Farm, she is grateful for all the efforts that contribute to fresh vegetables and fruits that are brought into the kitchen. She is grateful for being part of the kitchen team to transform fresh ingredients into nutritious,delicious meals!

Pictured: Yvette EspinozaYvette Espinoza

Youth Educator

Yvette completed her internship during Summer 2023 at Soil Born Farms and loved the farm so much, she decided to join the team. She is now part of the Youth Ed Team and hopes to bridge the disconnect between children and nature. Yvette was raised in Sacramento and is currently a student at Sac State University as an Environmental Studies major.

Pictured: Amy TackettAmy Tackett

Youth Educator

North Carolina native Amy Tackett, is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and UNC -Greensboro. She holds teaching certifications in art education, career technical education, and bilingual education methods and has served as secondary and post secondary subject teacher for over 22 years until her retirement from brick and mortar classrooms. Now she is a Youth Educator with Soil Born Farms and blends her passion for farming, livestock management, art, and education into the Roots and Wings curriculum. In her spare time Amy is a practicing fine artist and freelance graphic designer. She is also a small farm owner specializing in organic produce, fresh egg, and olive production.

Pictured: George AbrahamGeorge Abraham

Greenhouse Assistant

George is a retired computer engineer who was always interested in gardening and subsequently became interested in organic food production and sustainable agriculture practices. He first came to Soil Born Farms with his son’s Boy Scout troop to participate in the Harvest Sacramento Project. Impressed by the knowledge and the commitment to service of Soil Born staff, he became a regular volunteer assisting with various tasks around the farm. After retiring, he joined Soil Born Farms through a CoGenerate Encore Fellowship, aimed at promoting intergenerational collaboration.

Pictured: Nolan KirbyNolan Kirby

Youth Educator

Hello everyone, I’m thrilled to be part of the teaching team this year. I’m Nolan, and my passion lies in the world of plants and continuous learning. People often describe me as patient, compassionate, and calm. I prefer to use positive reinforcement in my teaching approach. You could say I’ve honed this method while practicing on my mischievous cat, Mac. Before joining the wonderful team at Soil Born Farm, I had a unique career as a videographer at the Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF). During my time there, I had the privilege of collaborating with numerous small and mid-scale farmers in California’s Central Valley. This experience provided me with a deep understanding of how local farms like Soil Born Farm are actively engaged in local food systems, adopting sustainable pest management techniques, revitalizing soil health, and practicing water conservation.

Pictured: Steven MarracciniSteven Marraccini

Operations Coordinator

Steven was born and raised in Northern California. During his childhood he spent lots of time visiting California’s Redwood forest and beautiful Northern Coastlines. This had a huge impact on his love for nature and the environment. Two years ago Steven made a huge career leap, transitioning from the Tech field to join our team at Soil Born Farms. During his time here Steven has had the opportunity to support the Farm Team, Youth Education Team and Culinary team. Now in his new role as Operations Coordinator Steven will be able apply his experiences and passions to help grow the farm.

Pictured: Mace ClinkenbeardMace Clinkenbeard

Operation Coordinator

Mace graduated from UC Davis with a double major in Sociology and Women’s Studies in 2007. He started his work in the natural foods industry at the Davis Food Co-op and quickly fell in love with the intersection of service, food, and community. Before landing at Soil Born Farms, he worked at the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op and Taylor’s Market. Mace is thrilled to be a part of a mission driven organization and the amazing crew that comprises the Soil Born Family.

Pictured: Rebecca LeRebecca Le

Saturday Crew

Rebecca Le was born and raised in Sacramento. She graduated from Sacramento City College in 2014. She worked for Soil Born Farms as an Administrative Assistant, Communications Coordinator and a Promotion & Operations Coordinator from 2014-2021. In 2023, she returned to work on some Saturday Farmstand days. Here, she enjoys being able to see regular customers, meeting new customers and all the cute dogs that come to visit the Farm. She really loves being able to work with the Farmstand crew too!

Pictured: Alex HopkinsAlex Hopkins

Administrative Assistant

Alex was born in Arizona and raised in Sacramento, and has been shopping with his family at the farm for about seven years. He has a background in computers, and is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in computer science. While working at the farm he plans to use his technological knowledge to help bring the farm’s operations into the 21st century and improve administrative workflow. His goals include finishing his degree and working to improve his understanding of business operations by helping with various aspects of the farm’s administration. Alex has a love for nature, the outdoors, cats, and bicycling.

Pictured: Teresa NguyenTeresa Nguyen

Farm Staff Crew

Teresa is a student currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in chemistry at Sacramento State University. With a passion for environmental sustainability and agricultural sciences, Teresa embarked on a transformative journey as an intern with Soil Born Farms through the College Corps program. Since joining Soil Born Farms, she has immersed herself in the intricate dynamics of sustainable agriculture, gaining invaluable insights into soil health, crop management. She is ready to make meaningful contributions in the fields of science, sustainability, and community development.