Sweet Stories 2019

Enjoy these sweet stories shared by our talented and dedicated staff. Each story is inspired by the work we do to fulfill the mission of Soil Born Farms.

Adrianaquote greenIt’s important to me to work in an environment that resonates with my interests and values, a job that’s deeply meaningful and gives back to the community. Education, wellness, nutrition and community service have always been the foundation of what motivates me to leap out of bed and eagerly go to work, knowing I’m making a positive impact in the world. Each day brings a variety of projects that educate, empower and inspire our community to reconnect with the land, sustainably grow and cook their own food and interact with their environment in healthy and meaningful ways. Every interaction, from greeting students in adult education classes to talking with our farmstand customers, is an opportunity to share my passion for the work we do which is all about encouraging and providing tools to live healthier lives grounded in nature. I’m grateful for the opportunity to work for a nonprofit organization whose mission aligns with my purpose in life. Adriana Jones, Adult Education Coordinator

quote greenI began working at Soil Born Farms with the intention of gaining the ability to become a farm manager that utilizes good agricultural practices, connects the community with quality produce, to submerge myself in the organic farming community, and to grow both personally and professionally. My goals align with Soil Born Farms ethos in multiple ways. First and foremost, I strongly believe in connecting the community with access to high quality food and educating them is essential in helping to improve the quality of life in the community. The regenerative farming practices used on the farm are also a huge driving force behind my inclusion in the project, we live in an area that has some of the best soils and farming conditions in the world but years of improper farming techniques will and does have a direct impact on the quality of food farmed as well as the longevity of the soil’s ability to be productive. Bobby Ragan, Farm Apprentice

quote greenFor as long as I can remember, I have found great happiness in the natural world. In open spaces, I find peace of mind. In fresh fruits and vegetables, I find nutrition and flavor. In the changing of the seasons, I find that beauty takes on many different forms. I am inspired by the bounty of our planet, and so, I hope to help others realize an appreciation for the land and all that it provides. Since Soil Born Farms facilitates a food system that nurtures the environment and encourages healthy living within a sustainable community, I believe that my purpose aligns with this organization’s mission. Moreover, I work for Soil Born Farms because I believe in the power of nutrition education, and I feel fulfilled when sharing my passion for healthy, fresh, and delicious food with others. I am incredibly grateful for the role that I get to play in the Soil Born community. Bonnie Speer, Youth Education Apprentice & Culinary Arts Assistant

quote greenI am a first year farm apprentice. I was selected by Soil Born Farms through a farm apprentice program offered by the California Farm Academy. Soil Born Farms is a place of peace, community and education. Working here has provided me with a sanctuary that helps me find peace of mind when the stress of life is weighing me down. Soil Born has given me the chance to become part of my community by presenting me with opportunities to work with city leaders, youth programs, and other veterans. It has also encouraged me to pursue my goal of becoming a diesel mechanic. I do not think I could have found a better place to thrive and grow physically, mentally and spiritually. Bryce Wilson, Apprentice Farmer

Callie Urnerquote greenFor me, working at Soil Born is all about purpose. I purposely chose to pursue employment here because I want to feel connected to my food, to the people who grow food and the land it grows on. It is a special thing to work at a place that also feeds me. I am proud to play a role in helping others connect to their food, to our community and to this abundant, life giving earth. I like to think the work I do at Soil Born—keeping my finger on the pulse of our financial health—helps support others in their search for purpose and connection. Callie Urner, Chief Financial Officer

quote greenSoil Born Farms has been a place for imagination, creativity, opportunity and so much more. It is a privilege to work with children in a garden space and their inquisitive nature and funny words make me smile every day. The community that Soil Born continues to gather is extraordinary. I feel so grateful to be aligned with an organization that values friendship, nature and real food. Whether it’s connecting to my community, tending to the land, or enjoying a piece of ripe fruit, I am always reminded that this is good work. Emily Andress, Youth Educator

quote greenSpending time outdoors can not only be educational, but also healing and inspirational. I love being able to spend most of my days outside working at Soil Born Farms and feel so fortunate that I get to teach young students in a natural setting. Through guiding student learning and curiosity about our natural environment, I have witnessed a marked increase in the confidence and comfort in many of the youth. A first-grade teacher recently shared with me how two very shy students in her class had spoken more in the 45 minutes they were in the garden than they had during the whole two months they had been in school up to that point. Soil Born Farms opens minds of all ages to the magic that is our natural word and I feel so lucky to be a part of this community. Emily Hain, Youth Educator

quote greenWhile starting my own business in the telecom industry and becoming a new father, I became aware of how nature provides so many resources for the care of all life. This was a shift in perspective as it was my understanding that we (people) were responsible for the care of others. Instead, I found that nature was really taking care of us all. With this newfound awareness, which lead to curiosity, I discovered the miraculous ways that plants function. From germinating seeds, to composting, to eventually enjoying, or eating what you have helped grow, I became fascinated by it all. As the world has started to see the signs of the damage that we have caused by our modern forms of food production, I felt the importance of being a steward of the land by adapting regenerative practices so the earth can continue to provide care for all life. By highlighting the magic of nature, plants and community, I hope to empower others so we may all contribute in creating healthier lives and a better world. Enoc Zepeda-Muñoz, Community Education Apprentice

Gaoquote greenThroughout my time here, I have discovered my own roots, and now see my values and my goals parallel with Soil Born Farm#s mission, goals, and dedication to the children: the future. Working with children was not my original plan, but since working here, both as an intern and Youth Educator, children became a driving force in my life. I see a lot of myself in the children I work with at our partner schools. I can relate with them, especially on childhood obesity. I too, grew up fairly larger than the average child and experienced health deficiencies as a result of it, and it also led me down the path to adulthood obesity. I cannot force change onto the children I interact with, but I can provide opportunity, compassion, and inspiration. The idea that it is possible and OKAY to be different. In all that I do, I do it for the children, because it is they who will inherit and create the world for future generations to come. Gao Ly Yang, Youth Educator

quote greenI began donating my skills and time to Soil Born by volunteering because I felt that I could give back to the community where I spent much of my life. For as long as I can remember, there has been a built-in connection to nature within myself. This awareness of environment is often the thing that provides understanding and peace of mind for me. This insight is an ideal tool to contribute to SBF’s mission of environmental education and connection with the land. Gary Hare, Groundskeeper

Jenn MacLeodquote greenCommunity means showing up, and all the folks involved at Soil Born are showing up to deepen connections to the land we live on. This winter I will welcome a new life into the world—my firstborn son. I am inspired knowing that he is being born into a community of passionate people with big ideas and strong commitment to their realization. Children are our treasure and future, and I am so glad to have spent the past year helping them grow into all they are meant to be. Jenn MacLeod, Youth Educator

quote greenGrowing up, I have always been drawn to helping the community in any way that I can. This could be by donating, volunteering my time, or just simply spreading the word about whatever beneficial organization that I came across. I felt extremely lucky when I stumbled upon Soil Born Farms, an organization whose mission focuses on benefiting the community through urban agriculture and education. When I first started working here, I mostly stayed in the office doing accounting work. In the past year, I have been given the opportunity to expand my responsibilities, most specifically within our teen mentoring program during our Farmstand. This really let me see the impact that our organization has on the community firsthand and I cannot wait to see what else we have in store for the future. Seeing the positive impact that it has on everyone involved, young and old, was and always will be incredibly uplifting. Kara Ly, Accounting Assistant

quote greenMy purpose is to connect plants and people. I work at Soil Born Farms because it allows me to do exactly that and so much more. I get to sell produce and plants, show volunteers how to work in the garden, and teach about herbs that can affect the body in a medicinal way. It is an absolute privilege to surround myself with life giving plants, trees, soil, and wildlife, and work in honor of them every day. And it’s what aligns my work with the mission of creating a place where people can discover a part of their food system and participate in it. Kellan MacKay, Farm Business Coordinator & Staff Herbalist

Kyliequote greenWhen looking for a place that would allow me to better serve my community I came across Soil Born Farms, and as soon as I stepped foot onto the farm I knew I wanted to work here. Everyone here has been so welcoming and the farm itself is such a nourishing place. I have ve only been a part of the Community Education Apprenticeship for 2 months but have already learned so much. Soil Born Farms has shown me what it means to grow your community by giving them the tools and knowledge to live a healthier lifestyle. As a nutrition major I am so pleased that one of the Soil Born Farms goals is to make sure there is food access to all because oftentimes so many people in our communities are neglected. I am proud to be a part of a team that cares so deeply and continues to find ways to help each member of their community. Kylie Pisciotto, Youth Education Apprentice

Laceyquote greenTo me, working at Soil Born Farms is about discovery. Each day is an opportunity to introduce a child to the world around them by tasting new vegetables, singing in the garden, getting their hands dirty, and giving thanks to this planet for all it provides. I came to Soil Born with the hope of connecting my love of learning from the Earth and my desire to share its lessons with others. In this past year I have observed newly-hatched hummingbirds in a school garden with first graders, sang and laughed with our homeschool class, discussed the intersections of environmental justice and our food system with teenagers and so much more. Each day has been filled with more wonder than the last and it makes me very hopeful for the next generation of environmental stewards who visit this incredible space. Lacey Carlson, Youth Educator

Laurelquote greenWhat originally attracted me to work at Soil Born Farms was their mission to connect people to food, health, and the environment. I have always wanted to work at a place that aligned with my core values of helping others and being environmentally conscience. I believe that we can make the biggest impact on the planet when we start locally by educating people on how decisions they make impact other things around them. Soil Born does a good job of introducing people to new ideas and gives them the opportunity to explore these ideals and develop new skills. Places like this are so important to a community because they provide that third place away from home, school, or work, where people come to connect, learn, and play. Non-profit organizations fill that gap between what public agencies and private corporations aren not able to do. I am happy to be a support person to help boost these programs so we are able to reach more people and be a positive influence in their life. Laurel Smith, Admin Coordinator

Lisettequote greenWorking at Soil Born Farms has helped increase my communication skills and creativity, but also led me to value their message as a non-profit organization. Providing organic food, education and wonderful people to the local community is a grand necessity to share anywhere. Being able to become a part of such a great team has made me become more grateful to work here while also helping send the message about this hidden gem. Lisette Aguilar, Admin Assistant

Oliviaquote greenThe moment I found out about the apprenticeship opportunity at Soil Born Farms I knew I had to apply. As I became a bigger part of the community around me, I became aware of the importance of access and quality of food. This awareness led me to study nutrition and, as I also got involved in organic agriculture, I was able to integrate those two disciplines to see the connections between our health and the land. I am passionate about teaching people where and how their food is grown as well as increasing access to fresh produce. Soil Born actively works to achieve these same goals through all of their programs. Being able to work with the youth on the farm is a powerful experience and something that I think is vital for creating new generations that share the same values about the earth, our health, and community. Olivia Henry, Youth Education Apprentice

Rebeccaquote greenSoil Born Farms mission is to encourage healthy living, nurture the environment and grow a sustainable community. I love that I have found a workplace that educates the community by offering classes and workshops from food to animal husbandry, to preservation and more. Our produce is easily accessible, local, fresh and organic and our farming practices are good for the environment. There is also a really great community here and I enjoy working every Saturday at the Farmstand being a part of the Soil Born family for the last five years. It’s the little simple things that make me feel so connected with this farm and makes me feel good to be here—the beauty of the land, the community and the really good food. Rebecca Le, Promotion & Operations Coordinator

Shannon Hardwickequote greenOne of my favorite things is to see kids eat fresh picked vegetables from the garden and love them. Recently during a field trip, a four-year-old boy asked if he could try some kale. We didn’t have kale growing at the time so, instead, we tasted bok choy, broccoli leaves, chard, turnips and ground cherries. This boy loved them all and at the end of the field trip he shouted, “my favorite thing on field trip today was eating fresh food from the farm.” At only four, he was so adventurous! This is one of many reasons I love working at Soil Born Farms. We have an opportunity to affect health, connect kids with nature, see joy in their exploration and steward our environment. I am grateful I can contribute to change. Shannon Hardwicke, Youth Education Manager

Shanequote greenOne of the most satisfying moments for me this year was digging potatoes with a group of students. Watching the expressions on their faces as we unearthed golden potatoes was priceless. It felt like we were digging for buried treasure. One girl exclaimed, “I love digging potatoes!” and I knew exactly how she felt. It was great to share my excitement about farming with this group of students who were seeing it for the first time. I work at Soil Born Farms because I love organic farming and sharing my passion with others. This organization gives me the opportunity to do just that. Soil Born Farms is an incredibly special place because we are dedicated to farming in a way that builds the soil and the community. Shane McKenna, Farmer

Shawnquote greenI started Soil Born Farms 20 years ago and remain committed to this amazing non-profit organization because I believe that our work is critical to improving the health of our Sacramento community. I am personally sustained by this work, daily blessed with the opportunity to develop a deeper relationship with the natural world and with healthy food. I am continually fascinated and amazed by the wisdom that is shared by all of the teachers that pass through this project. Learning about organic food production, natural medicines, ecology, permaculture, healthy eating and cooking and carpentry appeals to the jack-of-all-trades part of me. It is so exciting to see this same curiosity to learn and to contribute in so many of the people that gravitate toward Soil Born. Shawn Harrison, Founder & Co-Director

Teresequote greenI am honored to have been a part of Soil Born Farms since its beginning, serving in many capacities: as a community partner, volunteer, culinary advisor, board member, educator and, most recently, as a Project Manager on staff. This position gives me the opportunity to share two of my passions; cooking and empowering others to cook and share wonderful food with family and friends. Soil Born is a magical place that is unlike anywhere in our community. It is committed to educating our community about food, health and the environment—things I feel so strongly about as well. I have always loved to bring my own family to the farm and now I get to help bring more families here through my work in marketing and events. I am grateful to work for an organization that values my knowledge in these areas and allows me the freedom to be creative. Terese Hollander Esperas, Project Manager

Tishoquote greenMy purpose has always been to uplift my community; to support, educate, lead, nurture, and to fight for those who voices are not heard. Teaching children is my passion and my joy. Being outside, my hands in the soil, and tending to the earth is my salvation. Apprenticing at Soil Born Farms has supported my purpose and I feel blessed to be part of a project that is working towards sustainability for our communities. Food inequality/access continues to be a problem in minority and disadvantaged communities in Sacramento, which is reflective of a greater global crisis. Organizations like Soil Born Farms are crucial; as people move away from being consumers, to producers, they need the education, support and resources that Soil Born can provide. I hope to continue this important work locally in North Sacramento and beyond. Tisho Ward, Youth Education Apprentice

Tylerquote greenWe are living in a time of uncertainty. The planet is warming, topsoil is eroding, and the health of our food is declining. We need actionable solutions to reverse these trends. I believe the most effective solutions are found in a deliberately considered system of agriculture. Unfortunately, examples of these solutions are scarce. Part of my purpose is to be steeped in the practice of becoming an exemplary agricultural steward and Soil Born is providing me with such an opportunity. Tyler Stowers, Farm Manager

Vanessaquote greenI work at Soil Born Farms because I believe that every person has the right to fresh, local food. I am passionate about restructuring our food system so it is accessible to all. Growing food should be healing for the community, the land and the individual. I see that happening here at Soil Born. I love the people who come out each day to participate in our urban agriculture and education project—coworkers, volunteers, board members, partners, students, community members and others who all come to gain and share knowledge, give back to our community, be good stewards of our land, increase all types of health, build positive relationships, and enjoy this beautiful place. My purpose is to serve others, research, educate, and continue becoming a healthier member of our community; Soil Born provides me the platform to make it happen and so much more. Vanessa Forwood, Community Education Coordinator

Janetquote greenWinter is a time for us to absorb the lessons from the challenges we have faced and plan for the year with a renewed sense of what is possible. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day and Soil Born Farms’ 20th Birthday. This winter solstice, I pause to reflect on how grateful I am able to bring people together to learn, grow, share and celebrate at the American River Ranch. I am dedicated to creating an inspiring space where people of all ages who love and are devoted to protecting this planet that we share contribute their unique gifts and passion to make a difference at home, at school and in the community. The natural world at the heart of Soil Born Farms acts as a wise teacher, educating us about the rhythm of nature and demonstrating on a daily basis how growth is supported, solutions arise and challenges are overcome. Love never fails. Janet Zeller, Founder & Co-Director