Meet Our Team: Calliope Desenberg

March 7, 2023

Headshot of Calliope at FPFM

Meet one of the newest members of our team, Calliope Desenberg, who joined us in fall 2022 as Foodwise’s Director of Development, overseeing all of Foodwise’s fundraising activities and fund development strategy.

Tell us a bit about you, your background, and what brought you to Foodwise?

I’m Calliope Desenberg, the new Director of Development. I’ve been working in nonprofits in various programmatic, development, and operations roles for the last decade. Most recently I led technology operations at uAspire, a college access nonprofit based in Oakland. I was excited to join the team at Foodwise because I grew up cultivating my family’s food forest in Florida and bringing our produce to the local farmers market. My connection to family and food means that I have a deep appreciation for the importance of local food systems.

What does your work at Foodwise look like in action? 

My work is focused on bringing in the funds that keep Foodwise’s work going. Our markets, food access initiatives, and education programs provide important links between small sustainable farms and thousands of Bay Area residents—and all of that costs money! These funds allow us to fairly compensate our team, to pay for educational supplies and rent, to offer Market Match nutrition incentives, and more. Day to day, I apply for and report on grants, reach out to corporations interested in our work, and connect with donors. I also do planning and follow up for our fundraising events and work on improving our database and connected systems.

What inspires or motivates you about your work? 

What we eat and how we produce our food has a huge impact on us and on our world. I am inspired by the integrity and long-range vision our farmers have in how they choose to run their farms and produce their food. I am motivated by the fact that it’s a huge community of people we have here who care about building more just food systems. And I also love food and eating, so it’s a joy to get to do work connected to that! 

What’s something that you wish people understood better about Foodwise’s work? 

There are so many ways to be a part of the Foodwise community and what we’re doing here together. Shopping the market is a great place to start, and I’d encourage folks to get more connected. Come volunteer with our youth programs, donate, or come to one of our events. Our food access and education programs need a lot of resources and support to make happen, and we’d love for you to be part of that. There are a lot of us out here who love food and believe in a fair, regenerative food future for everyone. Join us in making that a reality!

What do you do to recharge outside of work? 

I enjoy playing mad scientist and experimenting making new ice cream flavors. Some of this year’s ice cream hits have included toasted hay and lychee, separately. I also like hiking and backpacking, and think Wildcat Campground in Point Reyes is one of the most beautiful places on earth. And lastly, I love singing and am part of the Queer Chorus of San Francisco. 

Do you have any favorite farmers market tips you can share? 

Push yourself out of your comfort zone and try something new every time. We have such a glorious variety of produce here in California. Whatever the season is, there is always something new to try and to learn how to cook. And that’s not even to mention the bounty of prepared foods…if you haven’t tried Acme’s Sourdough Cheese Wheel, I’d highly recommend it!

What does “food wisdom” mean to you?

To me, food wisdom means slowing down, thinking about, and really savoring and enjoying what we’re eating. It means paying attention to where our food comes from and how our choices impact our health and that of our families, our communities, and our planet. 

Anything else you want to share?

Prior to working at Foodwise, whenever I would have people come visit me from out of town, the Saturday Ferry Plaza Farmers Market was often one of the places I would bring them. I’d take them around, taste all the samples, find something fun to cook for dinner, and get some baked goods. And now I get to work here! It’s really a joy to get to be so much more connected to this place and community now. 

Please reach out to me at if you’d like to learn more about the work we’re doing or if you would like to get more involved!