Volunteer of the Month: Kevin Shumaker

January 25, 2017

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.

Rain has returned to northern California, after a four-year drought that has stricken our farms. Replenished aquifers are of course much needed, but rainy farmers markets are always a challenge for our sellers and shoppers.

Thankfully we have volunteers like Kevin Shumaker to bring a little sunshine to the market experience. Hailing from North Carolina, where he was involved with the Duke Campus Farm and other local farms, Kevin started volunteering with CUESA last year at the Food Shed, Info Booth, and at the Jack London Square Farmers Market Harvest Festival. “When I moved to San Francisco I felt like volunteering would be a great way to talk to people outside my sphere and become a part of the community,” says Kevin.

“Weather challenges require resourcefulness and flexibility, both of which Kevin has shown, hands down,” says Katy Burnett, CUESA’s Market Manager. “I’ve particularly appreciated his lifesaving willingness to help out for last-minute shift openings. No matter what happens, Kevin’s great attitude and love for the produce shines through, and I always like talking to him about his shopping list for the week ahead.” Meet Kevin.

CUESA: Where does your interest in food come from?

Kevin: I love eating. I love gardening but am not great at it. And I think that keeping jobs and money local is the best way to grow a healthy, sustainable, equitable community. If I can get produce that’s 10 times as good as the grocery store for half the price, and keep the money I spend in the hands of my friends, community members, and entrepreneurs, I can’t imagine doing anything else.

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

Kevin: I’m actually a software engineer by day. I came [to the Bay Area] to “sell out,” and volunteering helps me keep my soul on the right side of the line, and my heart plugged into my community. I’m lucky to have found a hobby and opportunity to do what I love while making a life for myself.

CUESA: What is your favorite part about volunteering with CUESA?

Kevin: I love discovering new stuff at the market. I have yet to Google “cardoon,” but I have discovered so many cool types of mushrooms, a new kind of kale, the gooiest dates I’ve ever had, what Brussels sprouts look like on the stalk, and many other things. I think my favorite part is just that everyone is so happy at the market, and having a good day. You’d never see so many smiling, chatty people in a grocery store, and I LOVE starting my weekend smiling at people and talking about food and reveling in the sun and the dirt.

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

Kevin: Oh man, yes, yes, I do. I am very much a creature of habit. My favorite things, in order:

Batter Bakery: Jen Musty and her team are so warm, so welcoming, so sweet! And the baked goods are amazing too! I get my girlfriend a treat from them every week. Their chocolate mint cookie is hands-down the best I’ve ever had.
Fifth Crow Farms: Their greens are lustrous, their beans are scrumptious, and their squash are as picture-perfect as they are delicious.
Far West Fungi: Jan knows his mushrooms up, down, and sideways. Ask about the Lion’s Manes!