Volunteer of the Month: Chris Chimenti

September 16, 2015

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.

Alemany Farm veteran Chris Chimenti has been a new shining star in the CUESA volunteer program since mid-July. Every Saturday at CUESA’s “Farmers and the Drought” Food Shed exhibit, he has been educating shoppers about agricultural water use and farmers’ water conservation efforts. His strong communication and leadership skills shine through as he engages with hundreds of visitors and orients new volunteers to the exhibit.

In preparation for the academic year, Chris has also lent his urban farming skills to CUESA’s Schoolyard to Market site at John O’Connell High School, arriving with tools in hand to prepare the garden for classes; conferring with fellow farmers about precise crop planting times; and even researching the best compost bin design, complete with photos, materials, measurements, and purchasing locations.

His interest in and support of a local and sustainable food system has been a boon to CUESA, especially to Education Program Coordinator Tessa Kappe. “Chris goes above and beyond time and again: staying late, coming early, covering shifts, and reading up on the latest articles to share with staff, fellow volunteers, and visitors. He even attended an introductory training on the subject, despite having already worked it several times, just to deepen his knowledge. His dedication, commitment, and professionalism have far exceeded all of my expectations.” She adds, “He treats every volunteer duty as seriously as if it were his full-time job, and we are so grateful for his phenomenal help!” Meet Chris.

CUESA: Where does your interest in food come from?
Chris: It all started with pickled herring and halva as a kid, but I really didn’t know that until I moved to San Francisco. My grandmother and mom opened my eyes to food, but it took this city and those I met here to bring it full circle, and I’ve continued to cultivate that interest through travel, work, and urban farming.  

CUESA: What do you do when you aren’t volunteering for CUESA?
Chris: My day job is focused on project and account management of digital products. But if I am not volunteering somewhere, you’ll find me biking, hiking, gardening, and exploring the bounty that the Bay Area has to offer.

CUESA: What is your favorite part about volunteering with CUESA?
Chris: Volunteering with CUESA at the Food Shed allows me to exchange knowledge and have great conversations about sustainable agriculture with local folks and those traveling from around the world. It’s the education that I provide and receive from those visiting the farmers market that makes it so enjoyable.

CUESA: Do you have an insider market tip or a favorite produce item at the market right now?
Chris: Get as many shelling beans as you can before they are gone. Italian butter, cranberry, or fava beans if you can find them. There’s simply nothing better than fresh beans!