Sacramento’s Soil Born Farms is a community affair that grows more than food

Soil Born Farms stand

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Nestled between the American River and a cozy residential neighborhood, Sacramento’s Soil Born Farms is more than just a field of squash and kale. It’s one of a new breed of nonprofit agricultural enterprises, devoted to teaching community members where their food comes from, how to grow it, and best of all, how to enjoy it. All sustainably, of course.

Attracted by the Saturday morning farm stand, residents stream in—some on foot, some on bike, some by automobile—to snatch up the week’s produce. Alien-looking kohlrabi, beautiful lemon-lime (colored) squash, ripe apricots so large and juicy you dare not carry them home. Experienced visitors come early to ensure they get their favorites, and then sit in the shade with cup of coffee and a tasty pastry while they chat with their neighbors.

Bhaskar and son

Bhaskar and son shop at the weekly farm stand. Photo: Kristi Garrett

On one recent Saturday, Janet Zeller, a co-founder of the farm with Shawn Harrison, stops to greet some of the local kids who are going to say hi to the piglets. Accustomed to visiting the farm often, children often run out to the fields to check on the tomatoes or visit some of the animals, she says.

It’s all part of the farm’s mission to grow more than food. “It’s a place where you can actually come and make a connection between food, health and the environment,“ says Zeller in this video at soilborn.org.

Activities for kids

Urban youth have few opportunities to really get their hands dirty, so Soil Born Farms offers a number of activities to connect them with the source of their food. There are gardening and cooking classes for youth people, natural world exploration, summer day camps, environmental restoration projects, leadership training and other experiences to help young people become stewards and champions of the land.

Almost daily there are school groups visiting the children’s garden, which includes everything grown at the farm but in smaller plots. It’s a great place to watch butterflies and bees alight on flowers, doing their job for the food chain. And don’t forget to meet the chickens!

Classes for adults

Many adults now living in urban areas—me, for example!—have also lost touch with the land. To help us, Soil Born holds a series of classes for novice farmers and gardeners.

In the Grow Your Groceries Urban Farmer Track, classes covering the business of starting a small farm, irrigation methods, beekeeping, selling, seed saving and more help inexperienced farmers create successful, sustainable food production systems.

Backyard gardeners get attention, too, with classes on planning seasonal gardens, and growing and using herbs to enhance health and for skin care. The summer months also feature community evenings and outdoor yoga classes. The full menu of classes is at soilborn.org, along with recipes for whatever’s in season.

So if you’re in Sacramento, especially on one of Soil Born Farms’ open house days, such as the “Day on the Farm” in May, be sure to stop by for a tour, a bite to eat, a visit to the farm stand–and if you’re a kid at heart, a dance.

You’ll come away refreshed and invigorated. The great outdoors has a way of doing that.

Have your kids ever touched a baby pig? Tell us in the comments below.

Kristi Garrett

Kristi Garrett is the Publisher, Editor and Chief Veggie Enthusiast of Little Green Wheelbarrow. After 16 years in journalism and corporate communications, she figures it's time to get some dirt under her nails.

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