Our Story

shawn_marco_janetSoil Born Farms Urban Agriculture & Education Project began as a for-profit farm in 2000 by Shawn Harrison and Marco Franciosa, two young and inexperienced organic farmers who had a dream and lots of ambition. Wanting to reconnect urban dwellers with healthy food and where it is grown, Shawn and Marco put a hand written note in the mailbox of a local Sacramento resident asking if they could farm on her land in exchange for produce. The next day a deal was struck, and Soil Born Farms was born.


In 2002, Janet Whalen Zeller joined the team.  Inspired by a shared vision of healthy food for all, a dedication to improve the quality of life in our community and a love of the natural world, the three co-founders transformed the farm into non-profit 501(c)(3) organization in November 2004.  


With help from a small group of talented staff and apprentices, foundation grants, grassroots support, dedicated volunteers and encouragement from community partners, Soil Born Farms grew to operate two urban farms on 55 acres in Sacramento and Rancho Cordova.  It has evolved into a nationally recognized center for the promotion of urban agriculture, sustainable food systems and healthy food education.


Our programs focus on promoting health and providing experiential learning opportunities for youth and adults, producing healthy food, improving access to healthy food for all and modeling land and environmental stewardship. Beyond producing healthy, certified organic produce for our 80 CSA members and local stores, restaurants, and farm stands, Soil Born Farms has also developed several innovative education and food access programs in partnership with area schools and agencies.


The American River Ranch, a 55-acre historic ranch located within the American River Parkway, is now the permanent home of Soil Born Farms.  It provides a wonderfully diverse landscape to engage both youth and adults in hands-on activities that educate and connect them with the natural world, healthy food, healthy eating, job and life skills, hard work, and service opportunities.  The American River Ranch also provides the opportunity to expand the production of vegetables and fruit to meet the needs of more Sacramento residents, particularly those in underserved neighborhoods with little or no access to fresh, nutritious food.


Soil Born Farms is about so much: growing food, mentoring youth and future farmers, teaching people how to cook and garden, creating urban farms and preserving wild spaces, developing partnerships and improving access to fresh produce throughout our community, and at the core, it is about making a difference. It means transforming a shared vision of healthy food for all into a local reality.

 

We hope you will join us on this journey toward a healthier Sacramento.