Volunteer of the Month: Bill Crepps

April 27, 2016

For our April Volunteer of the Month, we recognize a retiring member of CUESA’s Board of Directors. This important and very dedicated group of volunteers donate their time, expertise, talents, and resources in support of CUESA’s work and mission.

Longtime Ferry Plaza Farmers Market farmer Bill Crepps of Everything Under the Sun has been an integral part of the CUESA community since the early days. CUESA’s founder Sibella Kraus recruited him to join the market before it moved to Green Street. After a CUESA-sponsored trip to Terra Madre, Bill joined the CUESA board. During his tenure of nine years, he has served on numerous committees—Market Operations, Market Policy, Marketing, and Education—always offering candid suggestions to improve the market and deepen CUESA work as they have evolved over time.

“Bill is not just a farmer at the market,” says CUESA’s Co-Director of Operations Lulu Meyer. “For the last decade, Bill has been a touchstone for me when I think about managing our markets and being sensitive to farmers’ need. He is never without an idea to share and has a true passion for his farm, his fellow small farmers, and the community of shoppers that make the Ferry Plaza Farmers Markets so unique. I feel honored to have been able to work with him on various CUESA committees and see his knowledge and dedication to a healthy food system in action. I credit Bill with introducing me to my favorite tomato variety: the Juliet. For that alone I am eternally grateful.”

You can find Bill selling his fresh and dried vegetables, fruit, and herbs at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market every Saturday, Tuesday, and Thursday. Meet Bill, and please join us in thanking him for his service next time you see him at the market!

CUESA: Where does your interest in food and start in farming come from?

Bill: As an undergrad at UCSD, I was on a meal plan at the dorm but wanted home-cooked meals. Armed with an electric frying pan in my dorm room, I cooked meals that I learned from my mom: chicken cacciatore and beef stroganoff. My friends and I moved to a La Jolla house where we had dance parties. The family of one friend who crashed regularly at our place owned a Chinese restaurant, so we acquired a rice cooker. With even more cookware, my friends would ask me to cook meals to impress the girls.

I started as an academic before becoming a farmer. I earned a Masters in Entomology at UC Davis, and my thesis was on insectary plants and beneficial insects. I started a bio control experimental farm, transplanting paper wasps as part of my research. As funding dried up for the farm, I helped a friend with apricot farming while employing my research. This was in the 1980s, well before organic practices were defined.

CUESA: What changes in the Ferry Plaza market have you seen over time?

Bill: In the early days of the market, I could fill the van with produce and sell out; that was until the economic downturn. Green Street customers were farmers market shoppers, and today more tourists come to the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. But this is still is a good market. I can’t stress enough the importance of restaurant relationships, especially after the downturn. These days I can’t expect to sell everything. I’m always thinking about how to make the market different than others and how to diversify our offerings.

CUESA: During your tenure on CUESA’s board, which projects have you been most proud of?

Bill: It has been great to see my idea for marketing individual products with the chalkboards at the sellers’ stands implemented, strengthening the connections between sellers and restaurant chefs.