What’s your role in the village?
I am part of the culinary team here at The Ecology Center. I run the peace pizza operation which has been a fun and engaging activity for many volunteers as well. I’m involved with the packaging and labeling of all of our value-added products you can find online and at the farmstand. As the Culinary Coordinator, I work with my coworkers to see what is coming from the farm and how to mitigate any surplus through pickling, fermentation, and the food we offer at the center. We also create recipes that go onto the website or in the farmstand to help consumers use the veggies they get in their boxes.
Tell us about a memory in your life that shaped you becoming a farmer?
One summer, when I was visiting my family in Southern California, I got a part-time job at Chino Farms as a sales assistant. I loved selling fresh produce, talking to the customers, and sharing ideas on how to cook them. I volunteered to work in the fields one day to see how a typical day as a farmer was. That experience really opened my eyes, it made me realize how much work goes into growing and harvesting something from seed to fruit. Knowing what goes into our food is such an important yet lacking knowledge in our society and this needed change is what drives me to work in this field.
How and where do you find inspiration?
Honestly, since my early teens, my favorite place to go to is the farmer’s markets. No matter where in the world, every time I go to a farmers market there’s a special energy that affects the vendors and consumers shopping there. Talking to the farmers is so important to create that relationship between producer and consumer. I get so excited when I see interesting varieties and new types of vegetables I haven’t seen. The biodiversity found in nature is truly what inspires my creativity throughout the day.
Tell us about a moment when you experienced the power of community?
Since I started working here at The Ecology Center, meeting so many volunteers has been an incredible experience to remind myself of the beautiful, giving, and kind hearts humans are capable of having. 2020 has put so many people in a disadvantaged situation and I’ve been how important it is for people to have space where they can gather, help and feel part of a movement, of a community.
What’s your favorite meal to make?
So hard to answer this! I love creating a dish based on what produce looks the best and is at its peak in season. I’m so thankful for seasons and how excited we get when it’s asparagus, a tangerine, or a fig’s time to shine! I might have a recipe in the back of my head but I also like to use up whatever I have on hand. Beans are one of my favorite things to eat and I love sharing knowledge about them with others that don’t know how to cook or season them correctly.
Something I’m really looking forward to making soon is a spring risotto with fresh favas, peas, and mint. I love making risottos and pastas since they remind me of Italy, where I’m from.