Volunteers of the Month: Jennifer Slotnick and Tyler Charlesworth

August 27, 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 regular volunteer opportunities are currently on hold with the exception of farmers market roles. Learn more about volunteering here.

Friends bring out the best in each other. Work colleagues and friends Jennifer Slotnick and Tyler Charlesworth have been a regular pair at the Ferry Building’s south arcade on Saturday mornings, supporting CUESA’s Farmers Market Box program. Tyler had attended CUESA events in the past, and he joined Jennifer at our January 2020 volunteer orientation. Prior to the pandemic, Jennifer supported a few Market to Table cooking demonstrations. Since April, they’ve been packing produce boxes as a safe and fun way to help the community and support local farms.

“Jennifer and Tyler have consistently volunteered to support our CUESA Farmers Market Box program since the early days of the pandemic,” says Rebecca Crawbuck, Partnerships and Events Manager. “Multiple times a month, you can find them in the farmers market making our produce box packing efficient, smooth, and fun. I count on these two for their positive attitudes and problem solving capabilities. Without regular volunteers like Jennifer and Tyler, we wouldn’t be able to offer this important program. I look forward to seeing them on Saturdays and don’t know what we’d do without them!” Meet Jennifer and Tyler.

CUESA: Where does your interest in food come from?

Jennifer: The produce from the farmers market is much better tasting than most of the grocery store selection. Piqued my interest, piqued my tastebuds.

Tyler: In the last year especially, I’ve gained appreciation for the simple pleasures of high quality food. Distancing from people has brought me closer to the kitchen! 

CUESA: What do you do when you aren’t volunteering for CUESA? And how is the current crisis impacting you?

Jennifer: I have an art business called Mahaila Glass. I blow glass and recently have made projects using 3D printing and glass casting. During the day I work from home as a Product Manager at Workday. Tyler and I met at our San Francisco office 7 years ago and have been friends ever since. The current crisis was making me feel lonely and helpless, which is why I am so happy to find a volunteering spot at CUESA. It is the best for combating some of those feelings.

Tyler: I’m a software engineer by day, also with Workday. I love playing sports in normal times, soccer and volleyball with ZogSports. The isolation of the pandemic has compelled me to look for other outlets. My increased reliance on the local community has compelled me to think more about how I can give back. 

CUESA: Why are you choosing to volunteer with us at this time?

Jennifer: Is there a better way to spend time at 7 am on a Saturday?

Tyler: It’s an uncertain time. The certainty of seeing smiling faces, engaging with our community in a meaningful way, is very fulfilling. 

CUESA: What does the farmers market community mean to you? 

Jennifer: Meeting the farmers, learning what’s in season and spending time with happy people is so nice. The farmers market community has become a happy place for me.

Tyler: The farmers market is more than a place to buy things, although it’s that as well! It’s a converging place where local business owners come together. It’s a friendly place to meet new people in a safe open-air environment. It’s a vibrant place to remember that the earth is still alive. 

CUESA: Any favorite farmers market foods or home meal prep tips you want to share? 

Jennifer: If you see me, please give me peaches and plums. One hot tip is to chop up your melon from the farmers market and keep it in the fridge for when the temps hit 2,000 degrees and you can’t leave your house because there is an electrical storm. 

Tyler: I love the inspiration that comes from rolling with the seasons! I’ve been making muffins regularly and adding in whatever speaks to me at the market—lately, beautiful peaches and fresh rhubarb. But one never knows what a day at the farmers market will bring!