Volunteer of the Month: Jonathan Fong

February 7, 2014

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.

For the last two years, Jonathan Fong has been an invaluable volunteer, always ready to help in a pinch. He has supported CUESA both with behind-the-scenes administrative tasks as well as fundraising event prep, setup, and cleanup. He is also passionate cook and farmers market supporter and a regular on CUESA farm tours.

“Having Jonathan as a one of the members of our volunteer event production team makes me instantly calmer,” says Director of Development Christine Farren. “I know I can delegate almost any job and it will be handled swiftly, with the utmost diplomacy and professionalism. His breadth and depth of understanding about our work and operations makes having his help a dream. He can chat with anyone about sustainable food systems issues as easily as he can jump in the kitchen, set up tables and chairs, and start juicing 40 pounds of citrus. He’s really a fantastic resource for us, and a swell guy. I think everyone in the office loves him.” Meet Jonathan.

CUESA: When and why did you start volunteering with CUESA?
Jonathan: Two years ago, I served on the planning committee for SF Cocktail Week, and we co-hosted a cocktail event with CUESA. This was an immensely fun opportunity to work alongside CUESA’s awesome volunteers and staff. Since then, I have only grown to further appreciate CUESA’s mission, programs, events, and impact in supporting sustainable agriculture for the San Francisco Bay Area community.

CUESA: Where does your interest in food come from?            
Jonathan: Growing up, instead of cartoons, I gravitated toward cooking shows like “Dessert Circus” with Jacques Torres, “Yan Can Cook” with Martin Yan, and “Cooking Secrets from the CIA.” I was given freedom to explore and enjoy cooking for my family, which at first, as a child, meant I woke up earlier than everyone else just to boil water and make instant ramen, but then I got to do more, like bake chickens, make roasts, and cook traditional Chinese dishes like tomatoes and beef. I learned that cooking and sharing food can be a rewarding expression of care and love.

CUESA: What do you do when you aren’t volunteering for CUESA?
Jonathan: My day job is freelance photography, videography, and project management, often shooting photos of…food and drink, of course, or food-related events. With freedom from a typical 9-to-5 work schedule, I also have the flexibility to invest time in volunteering with various San Francisco nonprofit organizations, taking classes, going to workshops, reading, and hiking.

CUESA: What is your favorite part about volunteering with CUESA?
Jonathan: I can’t name just one part that is my favorite. The contagious energy and excitement from the staff and other volunteers help me look forward to every chance to volunteer. The unique, thoughtful, and well-organized events themselves further get me thrilled that I can contribute to helping CUESA innovate and make significant impact in educating all cross-sections of society about local food systems, and providing access to real, good food.

CUESA: Do you have an insider market tip or a favorite produce item at the market right now?
Jonathan: My CUESA insider secret is that the market is just the starting point for an incredibly enriching experience around amazing food. At the farm tours, you can talk intimately with producers while seeing and interacting with the farms where the food is grown, raised, and/or processed. The cocktail events are at the cutting edge of San Francisco’s mixology scene where the city’s best bartenders push themselves to find the full potential of seasonal ingredients by creating delicious, boozy drinks for you to enjoy (and while you eat and drink, you are further supporting CUESA too!). The panel events are where the food community gather to discuss the most intriguing, urgent, or even controversial issues they face, to help you be more informed about the whole ecosystem that produces the food we enjoy. Make sure you’re on CUESA’s mailing list for the email newsletter, and pay attention to all the great events that are happening!