Volunteer of the Month: Jennifer Williams
September 6, 2012
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.
In her past year of volunteering for CUESA, Jennifer Williams (pictured on the left with CUESA Market Chef Elianna Friedman on a recent farm tour) has regularly helped out at the market, in the kitchen, and at special events. Her enthusiasm for seasonality and market produce is always apparent as she eagerly assists market shoppers in locating farmers at the Saturday market. “I always learn something from Jennifer when she volunteers at the information booth,” says Michelle Venetucci Harvey, Education and Volunteer Programs Coordinator. “She’s always so inspired by the market, and her passion spreads to the shoppers.”
CUESA: What do you do when you aren’t volunteering for CUESA?
Jennifer: I joined the team at 18 Rabbits this spring, so I have been immersed in the world of granola and granola bar manufacturing and sales support. In my personal time, I frequent farmers markets so I can experiment in the kitchen. I also love hiking and being outdoors and weekend motorcycle excursions. I try to keep up on yoga to relax and unwind.
CUESA: Where does your interest in food come from?
Jennifer: I am blessed to have a partner that is a chef and is genuinely excited about seasonal ingredients, so a lot of my interest and passion began at home. I also love gardening and have always sought out farmers markets as a way to learn about produce seasonality and local farms, and to connect with farmers.
CUESA: What made you want to volunteer for CUESA?
Jennifer: Initially, I wanted to learn more about produce and supporting local farms. Once I became a volunteer, I found CUESA has a great staff committed to educating the community in many different ways. From farm tours with hands-on classes to hosting food activists like Tracie McMillan and the Hanson brothers [authors of Breaking Through Concrete], I appreciate the learning opportunities and the vital role CUESA plays in supporting sustainable food practices.
CUESA: Do you have any interesting stories from your time as a CUESA volunteer?
Jennifer: The information booth on a busy Saturday can be particularly entertaining. One Saturday a market patron left me with a young Golden Retriever, so she could run into the Ferry Building to buy a ticket from Bay Crossings. She was gone for nearly a half hour! Upon her return, she explained she is pregnant and needed a detour to the restroom, but I did spend the better part of 20 minutes thinking about how I would explain coming home with an unexpected new friend.
CUESA: What’s your favorite thing to make in the kitchen?
Jennifer: Last year at the Eat Real Festival, I attended a workshop on how to make fruit shrubs by Aaron Smith of 15 Romolo. Since then, I have used my farmers market days to inspire different fruit/herb/spice combinations to be used in cocktails and natural sodas. There are two or three dozen in my kitchen now.
CUESA: Do you have any seasonal market tips for our shoppers?
Jennifer: My favorite question to ask when I go to the farmers market (working or not) is, “What should I not miss at the market today?” I have discovered so many new things at the market, like pineapple guavas, Candy Stripe figs, Bacon avocados, and fresh spring garlic. My tip would be to come to the market with an open mind!