Volunteer of the Month: Taryn Graham

December 5, 2013

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.

A recent transplant from Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, Taryn Graham can often be found at the CUESA Info Booth on Tuesdays and Thursdays cheerfully answering questions for Ferry Plaza Farmers Market shoppers. You may also find her at special events, like CUESA’s recent Fall Cocktails of the Farmers Market. She’s been excited to learn more about sustainable agriculture in the Bay Area, from exotic fruits (the cherimoya is a new one for her) to seasonal trends. Equally important, she values the market community. “The CUESA staff, other volunteers, farmers, and vendors are knowledgeable, passionate, and dedicated and have wonderful stories to share,” she says.

“Taryn is a joy to work with at the Info Booth,” says CUESA Info Booth Coordinator Melanie Bourgeois. “She’s always in a great mood and ready to take any extra step needed to get things done. Even when it’s freezing cold, she has a smile and a good word for everybody.” Meet Taryn.

CUESA: Where does your interest in food come from?
Taryn: Food has always been a way to connect with people I care for; whether through huge, extended-family dinners while growing up, or dinner nights with new friends in half-painted apartments. There’s ritual to it: the women in my family wrapping endless cabbage rolls over the holidays. There’s experimentation: what, exactly, do you do with a guava once you have it? There’s excitement: “Have you tried this? It’s the best thing I’ve ever made.” Food brings people together, and it’s (usually) delicious. Volunteering with CUESA is interesting because it gives me a window into the world of folks who make all of that possible.

CUESA: What do you do when you aren’t volunteering for CUESA?
Taryn: One of the blessings of moving to San Francisco is that everyone wants to visit, so I’ve been doing a lot of exploring the city with friends and family. I read voluminously, cook passably, bake terribly, write sporadically, and am occasionally convinced into wonderful adventures like hiking up the beast that is Half Dome.

CUESA: What is your favorite part about volunteering with CUESA?
Taryn: Between the people and the learning opportunity, I think I covered it already.

CUESA: Do you have an insider market tip or a favorite produce item at the market right now?
Taryn: Delicata squash! Melanie encouraged me to try it one day, and I’m not sure I’ve left a volunteer shift without one since. They’re sweet, versatile, and the peel is edible, which means less prep. That said, the butternut squash is really good this year, too.