In Harmony with Nature

Sacramento Region, CA  |  Story by Shaunna Boyd
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Each year almost 3,000 students visit Soil Born Farms on field trips. Students tour the farm and explore the Youth Garden. Photo by Guy Galante, courtesy Soil Born Farms
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Soil Born conducts seasonal cooking demonstrations at the American River Ranch Farmstand, open Saturdays from April through mid-December. Hours are 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM from April through mid-May, and 8:00 AM to 12:30 PM from mid-May to mid-December. Photo by Joan Cusick, courtesy Soil Born Farms

Soil Born Farms Promotes Healthy Living

Sacramento Region, CA (MPG)  - Soil Born Farms started as a small one-acre urban farm in Sacramento in 2000. Almost 20 years later, the non-profit farm is producing local organic food along the American River Parkway on the historic 55-acre American River Ranch, located at 2140 Chase Drive in Rancho Cordova. The mission of Soil Born Farms is to empower people to participate in the local food system while connecting to the environment and creating deeper roots in the community.

Terese Hollander Esperas, Soil Born Farms project manager, explained that the urban agriculture and education project strives to promote healthy living and engage the community to “get back to the roots” through a variety of programs, classes, workshops, and events.

Some of Soil Born Farms’ upcoming classes include Winter One-Pot Meals, The Wonders of Fungi and Mushrooms, Cooking with Citrus, Growing Medicinal and Culinary Herbs, Raising Backyard Chickens, and Intermediate Urban Backyard Beekeeping. They also offer Bird Walks and a Spring Gardening Clinic. You can even attend a free Composting Workshop and a free Make Your Own Solar Cooker class. (For the dates and prices of classes, visit www.SoilBorn.org.)

Starting last month, Pop-Up Farmstand events give visitors the opportunity to purchase produce while enjoying tastings, live music, kids’ activities, and beverages and baked goods available for purchase. The Farmstand also features Millie’s Mercantile & Greenhouse Garden Gift Shop. Upcoming Pop-Up Farmstands will be held on March 9 and March 23.

Starting on April 6, the farm will begin hosting Saturday at the Farm, a weekly event featuring the American River Ranch Farmstand, open Saturdays through December 14. Visitors can meet the farmers who grow the food and enjoy the beautiful rural setting of the American River Ranch while listening to live music and purchasing produce fresh from the field. Magpie Café offers fair-trade coffee and pastries, and other hand-crafted items are also available for purchase.

Soil Born Farms’ biggest event is the Day on the Farm, a festival held every May. More than a thousand people attend each year, and it’s a wonderful opportunity for local families to experience all the farm has to offer. “It’s a really fun day. Many community groups come to the farm and lots of organizations come together. It’s a really fun way to experience the farm,” said Hollander Esperas. The American River Ranch Farmstand is open during Day on the Farm, in addition to various vendors, booths, gardening classes, cooking demonstrations, workshops, tours, nature walks, and draft horse demonstrations. The festival also features live music, games, a raffle, an array of delicious foods, face painting, and lots of activities for the kids. Day on the Farm will be held on May 19 this year, and there is a $5 suggested donation for attendance.

“We utilize these events to promote our mission. And the farm is a wonderful oasis for people to learn and to experience nature,” said Hollander Esperas.

Members of the community can support the farm and enjoy the bountiful harvests through the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. CSA members purchase farm shares twice a year to help cover the farm’s costs. In return, members get to pick up boxes of fresh produce each week during the growing season.

Hollander Esperas said that Wellness Wednesdays are a great way to experience the beauty of the farm at the American River Ranch. During March through September, visitors can start their Wednesday with a morning yoga class on the farm at 8:00 AM for a $10 suggested donation. Hollander Esperas said, “It’s a great way to be outside experiencing nature…It’s very peaceful.”

Soil Born Farms’ year-round garden team welcomes volunteers every Wednesday to assist farm staff. Volunteers get the opportunity to learn about medicinal herbs as well as native plants, flowers, and trees. Volunteers also help with the greenhouses, plant sales, caring for the orchard, and planting and harvesting fruits and vegetables. Hollander Esperas said it’s a wonderful opportunity to “get exercise, fresh air, and sunshine while talking to the farmers, getting knowledge, and building skills.”

There are many opportunities for kids to enjoy the farm. Each year almost 3,000 students visit Soil Born Farms on field trips. “There’s a bus at the farm almost every day,” said Hollander Esperas. Students get to take a tour of the farm and then participate in a variety of activities, such as working in the Youth Garden, playing an educational game, or creating a craft project inspired by nature. And no visit to the farm would be complete without tasting foods fresh from the gardens.

There is a lot for kids to explore at Soil Born Farms. And there are lots of animals to see, including cows, horses, chickens, and pigs. A play structure and a discovery area allow kids of all ages to learn and play. The farm also offers summer camps and afterschool programs.

Soil Born Farms is open to the public Monday through Saturday, and visitors can explore the rural setting through self-guided tours. Hollander Esperas said, “The farm is special because it’s a peaceful, serene place where people can come to get away from the busy, technologically driven world and reconnect with the land and get back to basics. It’s an environment that makes people feel connected and like a part of the community.”

Each year almost 3,000 students visit Soil Born Farms on field trips. Students tour the farm and explore the Youth Garden. Photo by Guy Galante, courtesy Soil Born FarmsSoil Born conducts seasonal cooking demonstrations at the American River Ranch Farmstand, open Saturdays from April through mid-December. Hours are 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM from April through mid-May, and 8:00 AM to 12:30 PM from mid-May to mid-December. Photo by Joan Cusick, courtesy Soil Born FarmsSoil Born Farms’ Day on the Farm is a wonderful opportunity for local families to experience all the farm has to offer. More than a thousand people attend the festival each year in May. Photo by John Swain, courtesy Soil Born FarmsVisitors can watch draft horse demonstrations at Soil Born Farms’ Day on the Farm in May. Photo by John Swain, courtesy Soil Born Farms