Volunteer of the Month: Janli Degenhardt

March 26, 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 volunteer opportunities are currently on hold with the exception of our farmers market information booth. Learn more about volunteering here.

A self-professed “hippie kid from Marin,” Janli Degenhardt (left) joined CUESA as a volunteer in 2016 who “wanted to support farmers and the systems that keep us nourished with healthy food.” She’s a regular volunteer at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market information booth and has lent a hand at CUESA’s Market to Table cooking demonstrations, Goat Festival, cocktail events, Sunday Supper, and corporate garden greening sessions. She also stands in for farmers when they need a break at the farmers market.

“Janli is a rock star Info Booth volunteer who is always willing to help out the team, and handles customer service with a smile,” says Director of Operations Lulu Meyer. “She is passionate about healthy eating, trying new things, and always has the best advice for shoppers based on her market favorites.”

“Our team is always excited when Janli is on the schedule because she has a great sense of humor and energy about her which makes the morning so much easier.” Meet Janli.

CUESA: Where does your interest in food come from?

Janli: In the 70’s, we had a school garden, and I remember pulling out the very first radish I had ever grown. It was thrilling. I ate it on the spot. On the other hand, more of a 60’s thing, I grew up without an oven, so I didn’t start learning how to cook until college, which is a very generous term for what ended up on my plate. But I did learn, and all of my meals were very meat-forward. When I went plant-based in 2015, I had to get handy with vegetables, and volunteering for CUESA has helped me increase my knowledge exponentially, not just about seasonality and sustainability, but also how to prepare the produce.

CUESA: What inspires you about this work?

Janli: The farmers inspire me. I am in awe of their work and dedication. And I love the shoppers and have gotten to know some regulars that I sometimes run into around the city.

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

Janli: I’ve been consulting in corporate communications, but I am actively looking for an in-house position. If I could somehow align that with food innovation or the plant-based movement, it wouldn’t be going to work every day; I’d be doing what I love.

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

Janli: I have quite a few memorable experiences! But one, in particular, was meeting Siba Mtongana, who is known as the Martha Stewart of South Africa when she was casually strolling the market, and one of her fans read a tweet that Siba was there. Her  fan came to the Info Booth and was trying to find a way to meet her. I suggested that she tweet Siba to meet her at the Info Booth, and it was an exciting moment. Siba could not have been more lovely with all of her fans. She was so down to earth.

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

Janli: My insider’s tip is to talk to the farmers when they aren’t too busy, of course. You will find out so much about the produce, how to prepare it and what is coming up or leaving the market. As for my favorite item right now, it’s a duel between kohlrabi and candy roaster squash. I’ve made so many dishes from those two mouthwatering items. I even have some spicy pickled kohlrabi in my fridge right now.