Volunteer of the Month: Carla Otterson

October 29, 2020

CUESA’s Volunteer of the Month program recognizes the dedication and work of some of our most active volunteers. CUESA relies on volunteers to help with education programs, special events, public outreach, and other activities that help fulfill our mission to cultivate a sustainable food system. Most of our regular volunteer opportunities are currently on hold with the exception of farmers market roles. Learn more about volunteering here.

CUESA volunteer Carla Otterson (shown at left, with volunteers Carol Henri and Linda Liang) has been a loyal helper at CUESA’s Farmers Market Box tent helping to distribute pre-ordered veggies boxes since the start of the pandemic in April. Prior to that, she’s been a CUESA supporter, attending our Cocktails of the Farmer Market and our Summer Bash events over the years. Impressed with our programs, she attended our first online volunteer orientation in March 2020 and has been lending a hand twice a month since then.

“We are so grateful for our volunteers, and Carla in particular has been a consistent and reliable face at our Farmers Market Box pick-up stand since we launched it last spring,” says Lulu Meyer Director of Operations. “Having a key group of dedicated volunteers like Carla to run this stand at our Saturday market is invaluable to me and the operations team. I can’t thank her enough for always being willing to help out and make sure the pickup process is seamless.” Meet Carla.

CUESA: Where does your interest in food come from?

Carla: I was raised on fresh, healthy foods and with a deep appreciation for foods of different cultures. I frequent farmers markets and enjoy interacting with the farmers about produce and other goods.

CUESA: What do you do when you aren’t volunteering for CUESA?

Carla: I work long hours in healthcare, but for fun, since the pandemic hit, I’ve enjoyed not commuting and actually spending more time outside walking my dog, jogging, and hiking.

CUESA: Why are you choosing to volunteer with us at this time?

Carla: When COVID hit, I was able to volunteer with CUESA’s Farmers Market Box program, where I’ve helped out on a regular basis ever since. Working in healthcare (although not on the frontlines), I’ve seen how patients and families have been hit hard by the virus. I felt the Farmers Market Box program was a good way to help people to buy produce safely, without having to worry about being out among crowds, and help the farmers sell their produce when fewer people are out and about.

CUESA: What does the farmers market community mean to you?

Carla: Working with CUESA, I’ve gained a deeper appreciation for the hard work the farmers do every day to produce healthy foods for all of us. The CUESA volunteers I’ve met and worked with are the best!  I really look forward to my shift!

CUESA: Any favorite farmers market foods or home meal prep tips you want to share?

Carla: I find it hard to resist most fresh fruits and vegetables. I’ve especially enjoyed the eggplant, corn, and carrots, and have enjoyed cooking them up together with a little tomato, onion, and garlic.  And if it’s dinner time, I’ll throw some sausage into the mix! When my kids are home from college, I like to bring home bagels and lox from the farmers market too!