Volunteer of the Month: Charlie Osborne

January 31, 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. Learn more about volunteering and sign up here. You can also sign up for our next volunteer orientation on March 18, 2020 here.

Relatively new but very engaged volunteer Charlie Osborne has volunteered his time with CUESA at all three of its farmers markets – Mission Community Market, Jack London Square Farmers Market, and mostly at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. He’s been most active in the CUESA Kitchen supporting the Market to Table program and Foodwise Kids, and lends a hand with special events like Cocktails of the Farmers Market and Sunday Supper. He has also joined us for garden greening with his work team.

“Charlie has been a joy to work with at Foodwise Kids,” says Education Coordinator Anisha Rathod. “His optimism, adaptability, and cheerfulness have made him an integral part of the Foodwise Kids volunteer team. He’s always at the ready to come across the street from Salesforce and join us and our students at the farmers market. I am so grateful for Charlie’s support!” Meet Charlie.

CUESA: Why do you volunteer with CUESA? What inspires you about this work? When did you start?

Charlie: I started about a year and a half ago when I first moved to San Francisco. Originally I started volunteering because I was trying to find an intersection between getting to know and giving back to my new community as well as cultivate my growing interest in sustainability and food. And these same reasons that I began working with CUESA keep me coming back time and time again! What’s most inspiring to me is the sense of community that being at a farmers market provides, and how important markets are to both the farmers and the customers.

CUESA: Where does your interest in food come from?

Charlie: I think I’ve always naturally been interested in food, but maybe it became more focused when my mom started buying healthier foods around the time when I was in middle and high school. When I went out on my own, I sort of emulated that and looked for ways to make healthier and tasty meals. I started cooking with Blue Apron and Sun Basket and then graduated to cooking more of my own meals. I also took a class about sustainability in college, so I became interested in how I could apply those ethics to what I was eating. Now, living in California and getting to see all of these amazing and new fruits and veggies has kept my interest going.

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

Charlie: When I’m not volunteering for CUESA, I’m probably working, cooking, playing basketball, playing video games, watching Designated Survivor, riding my bike, or volunteering somewhere else. It’s not a glamorous life, but it keeps me going.

CUESA: Do you have any favorite or memorable experiences volunteering with us?

Charlie: Yes, lots! I think holding a goat during Goat Fest is one of the greatest moments of my life. I would seriously recommend Goat Fest to everyone. Also, there was one time another Foodwise Kids volunteer somehow managed to convince this group of 4th graders to make a pasta dish out of spaghetti squash, and the result was a breathtaking plate of spaghetti squash that wouldn’t have looked out of place at a fancy restaurant. I also remember one time I was working with my work team on the School Farm at The Academy SF at McAteer near Twin Peaks. It was a balmy 65 degrees, and then all of a sudden the fog rolled in like some kind of horror movie coming off the mountains, and I just had to drop everything and flee. Because it got really cold, not because I was scared.

CUESA: Do you have an insider market tip or a favorite produce item at the market right now?

Charlie: I can’t give away any of the really good insider ones, but recently a farmer gave me a bunch of carrot tops for free because most people just cut them off. So try asking if they have any extra carrot tops. Also, farmers love talking to you and that makes them happy and you happy. Also, farmers have some of the best recipes out there – it always helps me to ask them how they like to use their produce. My recent favorite produce at the markets were these kiwis and also these unassuming but ridiculously good Fuji apples from Devoto Gardens. I was recently enlightened about this leafy plant called Spigarello by Farmer Nick of Ground Stew Farms, and it is perfect for salads.