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)

Callie UrnerCallie Urner

Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

Callie grew up in the Sierra Nevada foothills and it wasn’t until she moved away that she realized how incredibly special and valuable a place “the country” is. She earned her B.S. in Business & Accounting from Sacramento State in 2008, as well as her California Certified Public Accountants license shortly thereafter. She will soon be completing a certification program in Human Resources Management. Prior to coming to Soil Born Farm, Callie pursued her discovered passion for agriculture and large animals by interning with a local shepherd as well as completing an internship at Toluma Farms, a goat dairy on the Northern California coast. Callie feels blessed to be working at a place like Soil Born Farms which holds the land, education and people in high regard. (photo: Joan Cusick)

TylerTyler Stowers

Farm Manager

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.

Terese Hollander Esperas

Project Manager

In addition to her position at Soil Born Farms, Terese is co-owner of A Healthy Kitchen, a business offering catering, culinary instruction and private chef services for the past 18 years. She specializes in vibrant healthy food, prepared with seasonal, local and organic ingredients. As a busy mother of two and a vegetable-loving Vizsla, she is always in the kitchen cooking up something. She has been a supporter of Soil Born Farms and a culinary adviser to the project since its beginning, as well as serving on the Board of Directors for a year before coming on board as a staff member.

AdrianaAdriana Jones

Adult Education Manager

Adriana has a long history of working with non-profits and natural foods cooperatives. She studied sociology and health science in college and has a particular interest in public health. Working with Soil Born Farms integrates all of her interests in health and social and environmental justice. Her passion is creating sustainable communities with an emphasis on local access to organically-grown food. She enjoys coordinating the adult education classes and feel deeply committed to Soil Born Farm’s mission.

Lacey Carlson

Youth Educator

Lacey grew up in the Sacramento area. She majored in Environmental Studies and Education at U.C. Santa Cruz. Throughout college, she had the opportunity to intern and work with Life Lab where she led farm- and garden-based field trips, volunteered in school gardens and helped write new science programs that were aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards. She spent the last quarter of her senior year traveling around California chasing spring during Natural History Field Quarter where she learned to identify plants, watch birds and practice field ecology. After graduating, she moved to Davis, CA, and was hired at Soil Born Farms as a Youth Educator in November 2018. She values being a part of an organization where she can pursue her love of getting her hands dirty, munching on fresh fruits and veggies and teaching children about the earth.

Emily Hain

Youth Educator

Emily has always valued the environment and enjoyed being out in nature, whether camping with her family, mushroom hunting or visiting her school’s farm. She volunteered for a year after high school as a naturalist at an outdoor school in the Sierra Nevada foothills where she nurtured a passion for education and working with young students. She earned her bachelor’s degree from U.C. Davis with a double major in Agricultural and Environmental Education and Spanish. She is excited to be working with the Youth Education Team.

VanessaVanessa Forwood

Community Education Coordinator

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.

Jennifer MacLeod

Community Educator

Jenn became involved in local agriculture in college in her birth state of Arkansas, starting her first community garden plot and assisting in the management of a community farmers market. When she moved to California after graduation she knew that she wanted to find her community of foodies and farmers and Soil Born was just the ticket. She has been working, learning and growing with Soil Born. She served as a Youth Educator for several years and now helps as a volunteer lead around the farm. You will find her here on Saturdays digging out weeds, spreading compost and having lovely chats with her gardener friends.

Kylie Pisciotto

Community Educator

Kylie was born and raised in Sacramento County. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Food and Nutrition from the University of Alabama and one day wants to become a Registered Dietitian. Her passion for community engagement and the outdoors led her to Soil Born Farms. She started off as a Community Education Apprentice in 2019 and then became a Community Educator and Greenhouse Assistant in 2020. By the end of 2020 she left Soil Born Farms to work in another area of community nutrition but has been lucky enough to still be able to lead volunteer groups on the weekend. She loves getting to come to the farm to get her hands dirty, chat with the wonderful staff and volunteers, and continue to learn how to be a better steward of the land.

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.

Kellan MacKay

Farm Business Coordinator and Staff Herbalist

Kellan came to California seeking a farm apprenticeship and apprenticed at Soil Born Farms in 2009. In her first season of full time farming, she learned to cook for a team and established a community committed to good food—both of which were equally instrumental in cementing her career path as farmer and Renaissance woman. She has studied herbalism for nine years under the tutelage of Candis Cantin, the California School of Herbal Studies, as well as at the Sonoma County Herb Exchange. Kellan managed a wholesale nursery in Sonoma, and then moved to a farm where she grew flowers and helped start the Sonoma Flower Mart. She is excited to be back at Soil Born Farms, sharing her love for connecting plants and people.

Laurel Smith

Admin Coordinator

Laurel, a native of the Sacramento area, graduated from Sonoma State University in 2016 with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and Planning. While attending school she became very passionate about issues regarding sustainability and social justice. She was first introduced to sustainable urban agriculture while interning at Petaluma Bounty, a non-profit community farm in Sonoma County. She found it both rewarding and enjoyable working for a small organization that not only improves the environment, but also brings together a community. Following college, she returned to her home in the Sacramento Valley and worked for a year as an AmeriCorps CivicSpark Climate Fellow. During her service year she became familiar with Soil Born Farms by volunteering with their flagship program, Harvest Sacramento. She appreciates the opportunity to be able to contribute to the success of such an engaging organization that gives back to the community.

Lisette Aguilar

Administrative Assistant

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

Administrative Assistant

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

Accounting Assistant

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.

Bryce Wilson


Bryce, a native of Rancho Cordova, served in the US Army for 5 years as a communications specialist. He saw two tours of combat during his time with the Army. After the Army, he tried his hand in several fields of study that were interesting to him at the time but never settled on anything specific. Bryce has always had a special connection with the natural world. His love for the outdoors was nurtured at a young age by his family, who were avid campers and fishers. He always knew his life would lead to working outdoors. In 2018, Bryce had finally had enough of working in offices, warehouses, and shops, and decided to take a leap of faith and applied for an apprenticeship program through the California Center for Land-Based Learning. He was accepted to the program in early 2019 and was offered a position at Soil Born Farms as an apprentice farm manager. He is very excited and eager to be working at Soil Born and hopes that he can bring some fresh ideas and perspectives to Soil Born as well as the agricultural industry.

Zebulon Siegel


Zeb has spent the last seven years honing his tools, skills and mind working in professional agriculture. Apprenticing at and eventually managing a holistic grazing operation in Petaluma opened the doors of regenerative and restoration farming techniques which provided him with valuable skills and a sturdy moral compass. While building community and working in the Sonoma area, Zeb was given the opportunity to expand his repertoire of abilities at various farms including dairies and small market gardens. Those practices and training led him to explore row cropping and cut flower cultivation on a larger scale at a legacy farm outside of the town of Sonoma as a field manager for three seasons. With an affinity for the work and tons of hands-on experience under his belt and suspenders, in 2020 he was invited to Hawaii to assist in the building of a fledgling farm business from the ground up. Since February 2021, Zeb has found a home at Soil Born Farms, a source of meaningful work in the increasingly important field of holistic agriculture and integrity farming.

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.

Brad Harris


Born in Berkley and raised in the Bay Area, Brad moved with his mother and sister to Sacramento in 1985. He graduated from El Camino High School and haolds certifications in computer tech and a degree in business administration. He enjoys camping and hiking in the great outdoors, loves animals and is a big film and music fan. Brad has worked in the food industry for over 30 years. Looking for a big change and a new challenge he came to work at Soil Born Farms which gives him the chance to work outdoors and to experience and appreciate where local food comes from.

Ariel Young

Farmer and Artist

Ariel grew up in Sacramento and was introduced to farming through Soil Born Farms’ summer camp when she was a young girl. Inspired by the farmers and youth educators, she returned to complete the apprenticeship program in 2014. Curiosity about crops in tropical climates and different management techniques drove her to work on an organic coffee farm in Kona, Hawaii. After learning various approaches to farming hands-on, she received her agricultural business degree at CSU Chico where she managed the Chico Certified Farmers Market and worked alongside growers in Butte County. In 2020, Ariel returned to Soil Born Farms with a broadened knowledge of farm management techniques. She is grateful for the opportunity to provide fresh, local produce to her community.

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.