Working and living on a farm is not for ‘chickens’

Maria Kudrayvtseva, Staff Writer

For senior Jenevah Harrison, who lives on Soil Born Farms in Rancho Cordova, Hay Day is every day.

“I didn’t grow up on the farm, but I [kind of] did,” she said. “I didn’t live there until I was 10 or 11, but I was still involved all the time. I’ve been helping volunteer since I was literally 5 years old.”

Now, Harrison only works on Saturdays, though she continues to help in many different ways on the farm. 

“One day I might [be a] cashier and help customers. One day I might train new teens. One day I might help with cooking in the kitchen or package groceries.”

Before her current farm, her family worked at Hurley Farm. Her father and his friend, Marco, started their farm when Harrison’s sister was born.

“He wanted to start the farm because he wanted to help eliminate food deserts [in] low-income communities,” she said. 

Harrison plays a large part on the farm as a hard-working leader. She supervises the farm’s teen staff, working hard to teach them important skills. 

“I’m kind of in charge of the youngins. I have to make sure they’re doing the right stuff,” she said. “When I’m working at BB’s [farm café], I’m usually the lead so I also have to deal with a lot of customers.”

The farm is also working on a program for teenagers to learn to better raise and take care of farm animals.

“We are planning a program where the high school kids from Rancho Cordova are going to be able to keep their animals on the farm and then take care of them, so that will be fun,” she said.

Contrary to common misconceptions, farmwork can be quite challenging.

 “I feel like a lot of people overlook it, but it takes a lot of science knowledge, a lot of knowledge of produce, and how they grow in certain conditions,” she said. “It’s really hard finding a person that would be committed to doing that. We’ve gone through a lot of different poor managers over the years; they’ve all just sort of gotten burnt out.”

Harrison plans to attend UC Davis, where she will major in comparative literature. She says growing up around farm life has influenced her feelings around the environment. She has grown up very conscious of the environment, probably even more than most other children. 

“I was informed at a young age about putting bad stuff in your body and also putting bad stuff in the environment,” Harrison said. “I’m very well-educated on that matter and it definitely influenced my day-to-day actions.”