Sweet Stories 2020

Enjoy sweet stories shared by the talented individuals making the magic happen at Soil Born Farms. We wish you and your family a healthy and joy-filled holiday season.

Shawnquote greenThe simple act of planting a seed, nurturing a plant, harvesting it and then eating it is such a powerful experience. After many years of growing some of my own food, this year finally marked the first time that I ventured into making my own medicine from plants in my garden. Perhaps the final motivation came from the crazy times we find ourselves in, but for the last several years I have immersed myself more and more in learning about the healing properties of plants. Among many plants, the one that has really caught my attention is the Elderberry tree. Native and prolific in California, the Elderberry tree turns out to be easy to grow, great for wildlife habitat and the flowers and berries profess amazing immune system supporting properties. Armed with my new knowledge and enthusiasm, this spring I made my first batch of Elder Flower tincture. Three times a day as I ingest a dropper full of elixir, I feel the power of this plant and the farm flowing into my body. It’s hard to fully explain, but this simple accomplishment fills me with so much appreciation and strengthens my commitment to help others reconnect with the power of plants. ~Shawn Harrison, Founder & Co-Director

Adrianaquote greenEven the darkest night will end and the sun will rise, from the novel Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, personifies hope amidst adversity. Being rooted in the seasons of nature keeps me balanced in difficult times. As the darkness descends shortly after sunset, the rays of light from a starry night renew my spirit as I wait for the sun to rise again as it always has and always will, no matter what our circumstances may be. I never cease to be amazed by watching the wonders of the natural world even in the most challenging times. Experiencing nature with all of our senses reminds us that we are all interconnected with the natural world and the inevitable cycles of dark and light, death and birth, despair and hope. Soil Born Farms has a strong commitment to help people reconnect with the land in many practical life-sustaining ways, such as growing food, making herbal medicine and stewarding the earth. As we spend more time in nature doing the everyday practical tasks (gardening, hiking, walking the dog), that connection goes deeper than the tangible and has the power to heal, transform and thrive. Soil Born Farms provides the resources for us to nourish ourselves, our community and our planet. Thank you for taking this journey with us as we move towards recovery. ~Adriana Jones, Adult Education Manager

quote greenI am inspired by the beautiful seasons at Soil Born Farms. Farming allows me to connect with each of the seasons and the challenges and rewards that accompany them. Winter farming in California is a wonderful break after a busy and bountiful summer and fall. Arriving at work early in the frosty morning bundled up with a warm cup of coffee and discussing the plan for the day is something I look forward to. Lettuce and other tasty winter greens are fun to harvest and look great in tidy rows that stretch across the fields. Lastly, weeds grow a little slower and moisture saturates the soil a little longer, which allows us to focus on other projects at the farm. ~Ariel Young, Farmer & Artist

quote greenAs a military veteran, being part of a team becomes a part of who you are. Working at Soil Born Farms as a member of the farm team helps to fill the void left after leaving the military. I am grateful every day for the opportunity that was afforded to me and could not see myself succeeding the way I have without the support from all the people that make up Soil Born Farms. ~Bryce Wilson, Farmer

Callie Urnerquote greenNature consistently provides a path to inspiration. Something as simple as looking away from my computer screen and out the window beyond to see a squirrel leaping in faith from a limb provides a moment of inspiration. We are lucky to have so much nature around our urban setting, with ample sources of inspiration. From a stroll along one of our reflective rivers, to the soundtrack of crunching leaves as we walk down a sidewalk-nature is there, welcoming us to notice, just waiting to inspire. ~Callie Urner, Chief Financial Officer

quote greenOutdoor education is a powerful tool for teaching science, but also a fantastic introduction to healthy eating, teamwork and environmental awareness. This year I’ve been thinking non-stop about the computer-bound students our Youth Education program serves. Our team has been working hard to create virtual as well as hands-on curriculum for students giving them an important break from the monotony of computer work and video calls. It gets them outside, experimenting and growing seeds from home. This week we received our first feedback on our virtual curriculum from students. Seeing their responses has warmed my heart and given me an immense feeling of fulfillment and hope. From photos of cute veggie seedlings grown in yogurt cups to student quotes such as “I love plant day!”, our programs have touched the lives of over 1,000 youth this year. I can’t wait to see what they grow next! ~Emily Hain, Youth Educator & Greenhouse Coordinator

quote greenThe creativeness and adaptability from everyone at Soil Born is contagious and keeps me inspired. It is everywhere from the way the farm is laid out, to the way that Marketplace, community and youth education has evolved during COVID-19. I see Soil Born is able to adapt to any change and be a strong presence for the community. ~Enoc Zepeda-Muñoz, Farm & Gardens Assistant

quote greenI am inspired every week here at SBF by the exceptional staff, enthusiastic volunteers and forward-thinking founders. Every new batch of apprentices provides the farm, community and world with more positive energy, boundless potential and talent. Everyone here learns something from the ranch, nature and one another, I am encouraged to push myself just by working with such benevolent, conscientious people. I can think of no better place to be during this period because, as we accept these current challenges, we are also expanding our capacities to do so. Improving the world by improving the self… now that’s inspiring! ~Gary Hare, Groundskeeper

quote greenThis year, it feels as though Mother Earth has gifted us some of the most vivacious and bountiful produce that I’ve seen in a while. Maybe it’s the gift of time we have been granted, maybe it’s the need to fill that time with new hobbies, such as gardening, or maybe it’s the love and attention we have available to give our soils. Whatever it may be, the produce being grown at Soil Born Farms, grown in my own backyard, and my neighbors, is full of color, flavor, life, and inspiration. An inspiration that has placed people back in their kitchens and out in their gardens learning to create their own dishes, bake their own breads and grow an excessive amount of tomatoes. 2020 gave way to new gardeners, new cooks, and new life. ~Gina Marraccini, Chef Educator

quote greenSomething that inspires me is the compassion that our community has for each other. In trying times like these, it is easy to think negatively about what is going on in the outside world. However, being able to interact with our staff and customers during our weekly Marketplace allows me to see how strong we are as a community as we thrive while working together and understanding one another. That is what keeps me going and keeps me inspired. ~Kara Ly, Accounting Assistant

Kyliequote greenResilience is what keeps me inspired. The weather has quickly gotten colder and the farm has encountered a couple of frosts but the plants are still thriving. I’m amazed to see little crystals of ice formed on the leaves of plants in the morning but they remain as vibrant as ever. It reminds me that we are more resilient than we might think. ~Kylie Pisciotto, Community Education & Greenhouse Assistant

quote greenThe future of raising my kids on a farm inspires me. It’s hard to not be inspired by the heartshaped yellow poplar leaves falling, the success of nabbing a gopher that was taking out a bed of chicories, or the saccharine sweet pink sunset. But when you have people to share your observations with, particularly the next generation of farmers and herbalists, it grounds these moments in the interconnectivity of all things and makes everything a possible source of inspiration. ~Kellan MacKay, Farm Business Coordinator & Staff Herbalist

Laceyquote greenI’ve always believed that the Earth is our greatest teacher and this year has truly reinforced that lesson. Just as the earth goes through seasons of growth and dormancy, so too must we adapt and adjust to this ever-changing time. Taking this opportunity to slow down and truly listen to the lessons that our earth has to offer and remembering that we as humans are a part of nature, not separate from it, inspires me to pause, take a deep breath, and keep going. It has been a hard year, but I feel grateful for each day that I can dig my hands deep into the soil, throw an armful of flowers over my shoulders, and watch the sunrise over our fields. Nature is resilient, it will keep going no matter what, and so will we. ~Lacey Carlson, Youth Educator

Laurelquote greenI am inspired by the dedication and perseverance of the people who worked so hard to get us to where we are today and worked tirelessly to bring us a brighter future. From the Valley Nisenan Native Americans who originally inhabited the land to the farmers who cultivated pear orchards here in the 1960s to us, the current inhabitants of the American River Ranch. Each person had a vision and left their mark on the land. I truly believe in our vision of working with nature instead of against it to cultivate the land and teach the next generation about the importance of preserving the natural world. I hope to do my part and leave a positive impact on the earth. May we leave it better than the way we found it. ~Laurel Smith, Admin Coordinator

Lisettequote greenDesign is what keeps me inspired and motivated on what we can do to create a better world. Our world has the power and potential to design alternative ideas to instill sustainable practices that we can then begin to implement. Buy locally, organically, reducing waste, reusing products for other means, and, of course, recycle. Thus, we will be the change for our future and indeed we can do it. ~Lisette Aguilar, Admin Assistant

Michelle Sikoraquote greenThe commitment and creativity of our staff continually working towards providing our community with healthy plants, fresh produce, education, nourishing food and fun comforts truly inspires me. This year has brought uncertainty to us all but seeing our team pull together and pitch in wherever needed fills me with pride and hope. From our small but mighty farm team always working hard in the fields and pack area bringing in the most nutritious produce, the Youth Education team bringing the farm to youth through our online presence, the Greenhouse team growing the healthiest baby plants, the Hive team keeping all the behind-the-scenes operations running smoothly, the Flower team bringing joy into households, the Culinary Arts team working to providing healing food, and to our fearless leaders envisioning and creating new ideas on how to provide for, engage and inspire our community. ~Michelle Sikora, Kitchen & Nutrition Coordinator

Rebeccaquote greenI am inspired by all the care and appreciation we receive from our recurring and new Marketplace customers especially when they ask how we are doing and when they thank us for our services. Things are very different right now including how we interact with one another especially when customers have to stay inside of their vehicle and we load in their purchases. However, it makes such a difference when we get to have a short conversation or a story is shared with each other before we send them off for the day. It feels like making these connections is even more important than it was before. ~Rebecca Le, Promotion & Operations Coordinator

Shannon Hardwickequote greenIs it plant time yet? said a little girl as she came on the screen during her zoom meeting with her teacher and myself. I was lucky enough to talk with a class of students who were raising all sorts of plants, seeds and cuttings at home and they expressed such excitement. I asked the girl how she felt about growing the plants and she paused to reflect for a moment and then replied, “I feel very proud.” After thinking about these students and their plants, I realized that plants are what offer me comfort and joy as well. Even in this time of uncertainty, plants are often the one certain thing I know. I can look forward to the bulbs coming up in late January or the sweet smell of Daphne in February. I love to disconnect for a bit while searching for new things in the garden. Even now the plants outside are calling to me. Is it plant time yet? ~Shannon Hardwicke, Youth Education Manager

quote greenIt is not at all surprising, yet extremely encouraging to witness the growth, improvements, and upgrades happening at Soil Born Farms. The leadership and staff remain positive and optimistic while navigating the current challenges. A willingness to adapt, together with tremendous creativity is allowing the farm to move with passion and commitment on the path forward. It is a privilege to participate in such a meaningful purpose. One that values each individual involved, the community, and the environment. All of us benefit from the restorative approach that is the focus of SBF’s style of farming. ~Steven Law, Farm & Events Assistant

Teresequote greenI never thought I’d hear the word zoom as many times as I have in 2020. As tiring as zooming can be (even the word invokes fatigue) I’m grateful for this technology. This year, celebrations look and feel different. Thankfully, people are making the best of it and choosing to prioritize the long-term health of each other and our community by gathering virtually. Back in late summer, one of our most popular menus was our Mediterranean Mezze Feast. My heart is filled with warmth when I recall getting an email from a long-time SBF supporter and customer of the Marketplace. She and her husband had purchased the feast, as well as their good friends, and they planned their first ever zoom dinner. They sent us a photo of their table, set with all the delectable salads and dips all beautifully presented on their colorful ceramic platters and bowls. Their computer screen was set up so they could all share in the joy and laughter that eating good food prepared with love encourages. I love to nourish people but this story reminded me of the importance of both the giver and the receiver. Both benefit when done with love. I was nourished just by seeing how our food helped foster a connection between friends at a time when we are all feeling a deep loss of connection from the norm. ~Terese Hollander Esperas, Project Manager

Vanessaquote greenI am inspired by the people I work with and the community who support our work. The Saturday Drive-thru Marketplace is the time that staff, volunteers and customers get to connect in person, even if just for a minute. I hear stories every week of how the Drive-thru Marketplace is the highlight of the week. I get to hear from our community about what products they do or do not like, what they want to see, what they are growing at home, what recipes they have tried and how our service continues to positively impact their lives. These conversations bring enough inspiration to keep me energized and eager to continue growing our impact in 2021 and beyond. ~Vanessa Forwood, Community Education Coordinator

Tylerquote greenI’m inspired by our commitment to become antifragile, or to gain from disorder. Throughout the current mass uncertainty on our planet, our adherence to our mission is steadfast. We still believe prioritizing the utilization of humans to improve soil health, plant health, and food quality are the thin edge of the wedge. We believe these foundational acts can have the power to evoke great positive change. I’m inspired by believing we have actionable answers to help us all grow stronger through the chaos. ~Tyler Stowers, Farm Manager

Janetquote greenI am inspired by the awareness of the sacred worth of every human and the millions of people around the globe united in a commitment to build a more peaceful and equitable world. At a time when staying apart is the way to care for others, it shines a light on what makes living on this planet possible and that is people cooperating with one another. We need each other now more than ever. I am inspired every day thinking of our heroic health care professionals, scientists and first responders along with every essential worker waking up each day contributing their time and talents to get us through the pandemic. When I grow weary or afraid of the unknown, I have drawn inspiration from our team. I feel incredibly blessed to be surrounded (at a safe distance or behind a computer screen) by amazing individuals pulling together to serve our community in simple, practical ways that creates lasting change in the lives of youth, adults and the land. I am so grateful for each of you and for what you give on a daily basis: Granite’s perseverance and vision; Tyler’s attitude and passion for the work; Ariel’s creativity and work ethic; Bryce’s many talents and dedication; Bobby’s “can do” attitude and humor; Steven’s helpfulness and wisdom; Enoc’s energy and interest; Kellan’s grace and abundant capabilities; Kylie’s dedication and kindness; Emily’s creativity and insight; Lacey’s strength and enthusiasm; Shannon’s love of children and the natural world; Vanessa’s brilliance and collaborative spirit; Adriana’s devotion and insights; Callie’s focus and integrity; Kara’s skillfulness and peaceful presence; Laurel’s insight and excellent ideas; Lisette’s artistic ability and depth; Rebecca’s sweetness and strength; Gary’s dedication and abilities; Michelle’s nurturing heart and nutritional knowledge; Gina’s culinary talent and commitment to excellence; Gilda’s artistic skills and commitment; Terese’s abundant creativity, intuition and leadership; Elizabeth’s support and professionalism. And to Elsa, Jenevah, Tatum and Avery: you give me hope for the future. Thank you all. We are Soil Born Farms. ~Janet Zeller, Founder & Co-Director