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The Farmer Behind the Orangevale-Fair Oaks Food Bank Farm

Updated: Mar 13

On any given day of the week, Jesse Blacksher can be found walking among the rows of produce at the Orangevale-Fair Oaks Food Bank Farm.


Jesse is the Farm Manager of this one-acre community farm that provides thousands of pounds of organic vegetables for the community and neighbors in need.


“I am proud to be part of supporting the Orangevale-Fair Oaks community at the Food Bank Farm,” said Jesse. “I have a blank slate here at the farm, and the Community Foundation has given me the freedom to try new things.”


The Food Bank Farm has become Jesse’s second home for the last two years. He didn’t know farming would be his future when his path began.


Jesse initially enrolled in a liberal arts program at a local community college with plans to become an English teacher. He took a philosophy course and learned about farming, which led to him Googling “how do I work on a farm”. The English teacher path was history.


Jesse kicked things off by enrolling in farming and apprenticeship programs at the Center for Land-Based Learning. The programs provide beginner farmers with the knowledge, technical skills, business competency and resources to thrive and grow in a farming career.


Jesse sitting on a bucket among the field
Jesse Blacksher takes a moment from farming at the Orangevale-Fair Oaks Food Bank Farm.

Through this program, he briefly worked at an orchard before transitioning to a three-acre farm in Lincoln called Hillview Farms. His hands-on experience and passion for farming continued to grow.


After a couple years, Jesse found his place at the Food Bank Farm. He manages the day-to-day operations of the farm, the volunteer to farm camp programs, annual events and more.


Ninety percent of the farm’s produce goes to the Food Bank that served more than 30,000 people in 2023. Residents can also be part of a veggie box subscription program that runs from May through November.


“The Food Bank Farm was built by our community for our community,” said Jesse. “We wouldn’t be able to support thousands of residents without our volunteers, donors and supporters.”


Do you want to support the Food Bank Farm? Visit foodbank.farm to subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter, sign up to volunteer, make a donation, and more. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for the latest news.


Fun Facts About Jesse

  • What is your favorite vegetable? "Kohlrabi! All the flavor of steamed broccoli without the work of cooking it."

  • What do you enjoy growing most? "Winter squash; the plants are beautiful and the squash stays good all winter!"

  • What is your favorite farm to fork dish? "One of my summer favorites is a variation on Tian -- coined eggplant, onion and zucchini topped with tomato sauce. Bonus points if the tomato sauce is homemade!"

  • What is your favorite thing about the Food Bank Farm? "My favorite thing about the Food Bank Farm is working with and getting to know the volunteers. People Power!"

  • What is one of your farming secrets? "If your onions aren't working out, check their 'day length,' (long/intermediate/short) and compare it to recommendations for your area. This info is sometimes not included on the seed packet but is very important for success. Bonus onion tip - Poor germination? Try more light!"


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