Thanksgiving Gratitude 2020

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

quote greenLike so many other small businesses, 2020 has certainly been our most challenging so far. I take great solace and find hope knowing though that in the 20 years since we started our project on a small urban farm off of Hurley Way, there is a greater appetite than ever before for the work Soil Born Farms is committed to. Interest in growing your own food, supporting local farmers, cooking and eating healthy food and reconnecting with the natural world that sustains us are greater than ever. Without a doubt, our little non-profit farm and education center has helped to foster a more intimate relationship between people, healthy food and the land that provides for us. Moving forward, Soil Born Farms is committed to this vision and has 20 years of experience and hard-fought lessons behind us to help our community create a local food system that is both health promoting, environmentally friendly and equitable. We hope and pray that you will continue to join and support us in this essential work of our times. ~Shawn Harrison, Founder & Co-Director

quote greenI have been deeply moved by so many people the past eight months. I am grateful for the talented, committed and loving members of our team.  I’ve always taken the words of Margaret Mead to heart, when she said the power to change the world lies in the hands and hearts of small groups of thoughtful, committed citizens. I see this in action every day. Furloughing half of our staff in March was heartbreaking. Those of us that remained made a commitment to give our all as we united around a commitment to make sure Soil Born Farms would survive this challenge and ultimately thrive to serve our community in the years ahead. I have been buoyed and grateful for the generous and loving calls, emails and donations that have come from so many of you, reminding us to keep the faith and carry on. Most of all, it was thinking about the community we have served for 20 years and asking what is needed from Soil Born Farms now? We are living the answer each day. Every morning, I wake up and put one foot in front of the other along with everyone else and take the next step on the road to recovery. We can do hard things. Thank you for your encouragement and support. ~Janet Zeller, Founder & Co-Director

quote greenIn many ways the pandemic has brought our community closer together in the spirit of kindness, compassion, creativity and determination to survive and thrive. Every day I work for SBF either virtually from home or at our Drive-thru Farmstand, I feel a strong connection to our mission of serving the community in the safest way possible with love, compassion and joy. I love seeing our Farmstand customers’ eyes light up as they drive through to pick up their orders. I love that we support local sustainable businesses through our Online Marketplace and provide an ultra-safe shopping experience for our customers with joyful greeters to cheer up their day. I love staying connected with my co-workers virtually and in-person as our team grows stronger and more compassionate amid adversity. I love how our supporters expressed their gratitude and concern for our organization as they enthusiastically participated in our education phone survey. Each conversation gave me hope that our community is passionate about Soil Born’s mission and whole-heartedly supports the great work we do to ensure that we will not only survive, but will eventually thrive through this most challenging period in the history of our nonprofit organization. Thank you for giving what you can this year. ~Adriana Jones, Adult Education Manager

quote greenWorking with a crew of awesome people has given me hope throughout the pandemic. Farming is full of victories both large and small that continue to inspire me. Small victories that have positively impacted me this year include growing our most successful pepper patch to date. The plants were so robust they outgrew the t-posts used to support them. Larger victories often take years to accomplish and are incredibly rewarding such as increased soil health and weed suppression. This season we have made tangible progress towards these goals. Throughout 2020 we have blanketed the farm in summer and winter cover crops to decrease compaction, suppress weed growth, and increase organic matter in the soil. The result of these victories is the produce we get to share with the community. We are proud to provide fresh fruits and vegetables for everyone to enjoy and I hope local produce is as inspiring to eat as it is to grow. Thank you for supporting Soil Born Farms. This organization provides hope for countless people through their many uplifting and meaningful programs. ~Ariel Young, Farmer and Artist

quote greenSince the pandemic, life has been complicated and frustrating. Not knowing if or when this troubling time will come to an end has a lot of us feeling unsure about our futures. One of the things that has helped me to stay motivated is knowing that I work for an organization that puts its employees and the community it supports at the top of its priorities. For this I am grateful. I would also like to express my gratitude to the many donors that help to keep our organization funded prior to, and during this great time of need. ~Bryce Wilson, Farmer Apprentice

quote greenThis year we have conceivably gone through the most intense and trying year of our lifetime – and even so (or perhaps because of these difficulties), I see reasons to be grateful everywhere I look. At Soil Born these reasons are many. I am grateful for the resilience, adaptability and fighting spirit of our staff; the technology and equipment that allows us to continue to work safely; the flock of turkeys and beautiful painted sky sunsets that continue to grace the farm; and the support, financial and otherwise, of our loving, local community. The enthusiasm and support you have shown for our Drive-thru Marketplace has been a shining point for our organization this year and a high point of our weeks, giving us a chance to stay connected, while staying safe and providing a reliable source of nutritious food directly to our community. Thank you for being there with us this year. If you are able to help us continue our mission of connecting the community with food, health and the environment by making a donation this holiday season, it will add that much more reason for us to be grateful this year. ~Callie Urner, Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

quote greenIn a time of risky grocery lines and inconsistently stocked store shelves, Soil Born has provided its community members with the means to grow their own food. This has given me hope for the well-being of our friends and neighbors. Not only are there nutritional benefits to growing and consuming one’s own fresh produce, but also therapeutic and educational advantages in caring for and sustaining beautiful plants, fruits and vegetables. I have seen the increased interest in organic home gardening through the bountiful plant seedlings purchased at our Online Marketplace and the ecstatic quotes and photos from students who received our educational lesson kits containing soil and seeds to grow vegetables at home. I plan to start my own herb and vegetable garden this winter too. ~Emily Hain, Youth Educator

quote greenDuring this state of health crisis, it is more important than ever to have a place like Soil Born Farms. I see Soil Born continually evolving and expanding on the connection of food, health and environment. As the world struggles with learning and addressing the causes of illness, I am thankful for Soil Born farms and all the lives that are part of it. ~Enoc Zepeda-Munoz, Farm & Gardens Assistant

quote greenI am grateful on a daily basis to be a part of Soil Born’s mission, to help build a sustainable future locally, in our community by practicing responsible land stewardship. ‘Keeping the grounds’ here brings perspective, an appreciation for the ecosystem that provides so much for the community. ~Gary Hare, Groundskeeper

quote greenFor the past 10 years, I have been working in family-owned restaurants and delis, falling in love with food, falling in love with cooking, and falling in love with the people. I built lifelong relationships in some of those restaurants, I discovered myself and a whole world of possibilities. When the pandemic hit, the food industry was hit, and I watched that world crumble. Many of our well established restaurants are gone now, chefs, servers, and bartenders are out of jobs or struggling to stay safe in the ones they have. The food industry is working tirelessly to bring a glimpse of normalcy into our lives, to bring back a little bit of that hospitality and love you once felt, while keeping you safe, and that is exactly what we have done here at Soil Born Farms. I am beyond grateful to our leaders here at Soil Born, who have created our Online Marketplace and Drive-thru Farmstand, that have kept us employed, when many others are not, and kept us and the community safe while working. It is these creative and tenacious minds that are going to keep us moving forward. And of course, none of this would be possible without the continuous love and support of our community, so this holiday season, we are thankful for all of you. ~Gina Marraccini, Chef Educator

quote greenDuring a time of uncertainty and worry, I have found myself being thankful for the small things I had often overlooked in the past. An example of that is working on the farm during our Saturday Marketplace. It is crazy to think that even with the pandemic, Soil Born Farms is able to continue to work towards its mission of connecting the community to food, health, and the environment. Through the help of technology, planning, and the amazing people I work with, I get to end the week with providing customers with healthy produce for their family and seeing their happy faces while doing so. I will always be grateful for that. ~Kara Ly, Accounting Assistant

quote greenSo many of us, myself included, long for a sense of community during these times when we feel so isolated from everyone. Soil Born Farms cares deeply about everyone’s safety and has found a way to provide that community engagement that so many of us are looking for. The volunteers that I get to work with have all been so wonderful and I love getting to interact with my community even when it’s socially distanced. Getting to work with the Earth has been so grounding during these stressful times and I only hope that we get to keep providing this safe space for people to come out and volunteer. ~Kylie Pisciotto, Community Education & Greenhouse Assistant

quote greenLooking into a particularly unstable future, I find hope in working for an organization that prioritizes health in all forms. By working for, patronizing, or giving to Soil Born Farms we are all participating in the evolution of human health and environmental health in Rancho Cordova. I am grateful to every individual that contributes hard work, dollars, and time to us because it makes our programming possible. ~Kellan MacKay, Farm Business Coordinator & Staff Herbalist

quote greenThis past year has been challenging for sure, but within that challenge has been so much opportunity for our team to adapt, learn, and grow. I’ve been so grateful over the past few months to work with the farmers and the flowers, learning new skills that are so valuable as an educator in this space. The Youth Ed team has been hard at work reimagining the Youth Garden and other learning spaces, and creating virtual field trips so that we can stay connected to the children who are so integral to our farm. This time has been full of discovery and growth as we dig deeper into how to reach our community in impactful ways, and I know we will come out of it so much stronger on the other side. ~Lacey Carlson, Youth Educator

quote greenWith the ongoing pandemic we have been forced to dig deep and get creative in many ways so that we can continue operating and providing vital resources to our community in a socially distanced manner. We had to change a lot of plans and reevaluate many of our programs this year. Our Farm team continued doing what they do best by cultivating the land, our Greenhouse team continued planting seeds and growing plants, our Youth Education team created online curriculum for local teachers, our Culinary Education team created nourishing prepared meals, and our Admin team created the Online Marketplace so our customers could access this bounty of organic, locally grown produce, plants and home goods. I am so thankful for everyone that has supported us during this time of uncertainty as we tried new and innovative ways of providing these resources and staying connected to our community. This year has shown the resilience of our organization and our community to adapt and overcome one of the most challenging world events to happen in modern history. Thank you to everyone that has made continuing our work possible. ~Laurel Smith, Admin Coordinator

quote greenSustaining health overall is so vital during this time of inevitability. Maintaining good practices such as washing your hands, eating nutrient dense foods as well as maintaining social distancing are key towards fighting off the virus. Working at Soil Born has led me to continue with these practices as we want what is better for not only our well-being but for the local community as well. We always encourage education towards life and our world, and during these difficult times, I believe we need to hold onto these beliefs now more than ever. Soil Born is here to help. ~Lisette Aguilar, Administrative Assistant

quote greenSlated to come back to work after maternity leave and the pandemic hit hard causing Soil Born to rethink how to serve the community. With the uncertainty of not knowing how the farm would operate during the pandemic, I am so grateful for our creative and imaginative leaders. Continuing to provide new and loyal customers nutritious produce, healthy meals, and sustainable household items through our Online Marketplace keeps us connected to our community with the convenience of not even getting out of your car. During these challenging times I am grateful to be a part of our crew while supporting my community. Any contribution would help us be able to keep our mission of connecting people with food, health and the environment alive during these difficult times. ~Michelle Sikora, Kitchen & Nutrition Coordinator

quote greenDuring the pandemic, we’ve been able to continue having our Farmstand by drive-thru and able to allow people to pickup by appointment. It’s been so nice to still see some of the regular customers and meet new ones. This has not only allowed Soil Born Farms to survive this challenging time but also for our supporters and customers to be able to feel some normalcy as we all have needed to feel that during this time and feel united as a community instead of feeling separated. Thank you to everyone that has supported us the pandemic and for anyone that has been able to make a donation during our fundraising drive and Online Marketplace. Any amount helps, we greatly appreciate you. ~Rebecca Le, Promotions & Operations Coordinator

quote greenWho would have ever thought that Soil Born would be offering virtual field trips and home garden kits? It has always been our goal to get kids and families out to the farm and into the school gardens. Amazingly, with a super creative set of lessons, videos and materials, we have encouraged these same interactions to happen in home gardens, neighborhoods and communities. My favorite moments these last few weeks have involved students sharing their excitement, zoom screens full of seeds and plants and text messages to teachers about their plant sprouts. Just last week I interacted with 40 little first graders on a virtual field trip and was amazed at their understanding of Soil Born crops and the edible plant parts. I have been moved by the deep need for students to continue to connect with nature, plants, healthy food and the outside environment, especially in this virtual world. I am grateful each day for the pure joy of children and for our Youth Education team members who are willing to stretch themselves to serve these kiddos until they can return to Soil Born. ~Shannon Hardwicke, Youth Education Manager

quote greenAs we continue to face the current challenges, seeing the appreciation of the community participating in the Drive-thru Farmstand gives me hope for the future. In many ways, Soil Born Farm is uniquely positioned to provide what is needed perhaps more than ever. Thanks to the creativity of leadership and staff, SBF has adapted and continues to adapt in order to allow access to what the farm has to offer. There is an opportunity for all of us to reevaluate our priorities. Health, education, community and connection to the natural world have long been the focus of our mission. We are grateful to all who have supported us in this mission and hope you will continue to do so. Those who might consider donating to this cause, know that our dedication is worthy of your generosity. ~Steven Law, Farm and Events Assistant

quote greenWhen we had to close our farm to the public because of the pandemic, we knew that we had to find another way to get fresh organic produce to our supporters. The creation of our weekly Online Marketplace in lieu of our Saturday Farmstand is just one way that we have adapted and shifted the way we do things, without losing the integrity and scope of our mission to connect food, health and the environment. The Marketplace has been very well received and it warms my heart to know that we are offering a service that people love and need. I have been heading up the Farmhouse Soup Kitchen, making soups with our seasonal organic produce. It has been rewarding knowing that we are helping to nourish people during this difficult time where the health of our community is at stake. I am so grateful that our community believes in the work that we do, and that we are able to continue our project, in a much different way than expected.This pandemic has made it challenging for us. We have had to furlough staff, suspend all revenue generating activities and events on the farm and cancel our largest annual fundraiser. I am hopeful that our strong network of supporters will recognize that we need them more than ever to help us pull through these dark times and keep towards the light. ~Terese Hollander Esperas, Project Manager

quote greenThere is no denying the enormity of misfortune brought on by COVID-19. Humanity will be forever changed. I’m grateful to be a part of an entity who has chosen to become stronger through chaos. Soil Born is meeting a fundamental and critically important need in the community while showcasing solutions to the great problems of our time. The response from our supporters, old and new, have given me hope that society can do the right thing when it’s needed most. ~Tyler Stowers, Farm Manager

quote greenThe one thing I have witnessed since COVID-19 is really a lot of little things that highlight the resilience, creativity, empathy and desire to serve the staff, board, donors, and volunteers who continue to contribute to this important food education project. The community needed a safe way to access high-quality, local, organic produce. Soil Born responded. Educators joined farmers to help increase production. The Farmstand shifted to an amazing Online Marketplace with drive-thru pickup where we are able to serve even more people than before. The community increased their desire to grow their own food. Soil Born responded. Our Youth Education team created virtual programming and home garden kits so students can still experience the natural world during distance learning. Our YouTube channel now features videos from three of our programs: Growing Together, Grow Your Groceries, and Eat Your Veggies. Our Greenhouse team created unique sets of plant starts to help home gardeners grow a variety of vegetables, herbs, and flowers. We are doing all this and still preparing for our community to come back and enjoy the American River Ranch with us again. We are using infrastructure grants to make much needed improvements to our land. We are learning how to be better stewards of the land as a whole staff and implementing regenerative practices in all of our garden and production areas. We are developing new programs such as the Healthy Families program, which aims to work with the whole family to increase health and decrease disease through food, nutrition and garden access and education. The work we are doing to build a stronger food system is just as critical now as it ever has been and I am excited to be doing it with a team of brilliant and caring individuals. Thank you to our staff, our board, our volunteers and all our amazing donors who make it possible for Soil Born Farms to continue supporting our community now and into the future. ~Vanessa Forwood, Community Education Coordinator