Psynergy volunteers at Soil Born Farms
Recently a crew of residents headed by Nueva Vista Sacramento Program Manager Shanna Thompson visited Soil Born Farms in Rancho Cordova for a day of volunteering in the outdoors. Soil Born Farms is a non-profit urban agriculture and education project. It’s mission is to empower both youth and adults to discover and participate in a local food system that encourages healthy living, nurtures the environment and grows a sustainable community. Originally founded in 2000 on a plot of undeveloped city land, it has grown to its current 55-acre American River Ranch site after relocating there in 2007.
Thompson discovered Soil Born Farm shortly before Covid hit – the farm is very close to Psynergy’s Vista de Robles property in Rancho Cordova. Before she could organize an outing for residents, the world shut down. But this year, she reached out to the volunteer coordinator there to put together an outing.
The farm is designed for visitors and volunteering, with many options to explore.
“They had multiple programs going on the weekend we were there – there is a café where they serve food and drinks, and a gift shop selling locally harvested products, including local honey,” says Thompson. “There’s always a lot going on –a yoga class was happening while we were there. Soil Born also sponsors a program called Harvest Sacramento, where volunteers go to various locations with fruit trees to help with the harvest.”
Five residents accompanied Thompson during the outing, and the group spent three hours harvesting eight rows of tomatoes, and then uprooting the plants and composting the field to get it ready for the next crop.
Thompson said she was very proud of the clients taking part, as it was laborious, sweaty work. “I really like for our residents to have opportunities to be hands-on in realistic situations,” says Thompson. “It was good for them to get their hands dirty and understand what it takes to be sustainable in their own lives. Now they know what kind of work is involved if they want to create a garden, but also practicing mindfulness and where their food is sourced. Mindfulness is a great tool we teach in mental health. It's about staying in the here and now, and I’ve found that being in nature is a great opportunity for clients to be in tune with their surroundings and feel more grounded.”
Other volunteer opportunities at Soil Born Farm include working in the café and store, along with educational workshops on seasonal cooking, herbal medicine and nutrition, as well as propagation and composting. Thompson hopes to return soon with another group to explore some of these options. For more information about the farm and its many programs for the public, visit their website at www.Soilborn.org.