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.
Last year, when CUESA introduced Foodwise Kids, a program that brings elementary school children to the farmers market for hands-on cooking classes, chef Hollie Greene jumped at the chance to offer her support. With her experience teaching kids to cook, she helped us develop the program and has been a consistent volunteer instructor for our visiting school groups.
“Hollie brings her joy and bright smile to the CUESA Kitchen every time she is here to help out with Foodwise Kids,” says CUESA Market Chef Elianna Friedman. “Hollie has so much experience working with children and teaching them about healthy and sustainable food. I often feel like I am student in her classroom as well.” We are thrilled to recognize Hollie has our February Volunteer of the Month. Meet Hollie and try her delicious recipe for Beets at Sunset Dip, below.
CUESA: What do you do when you aren’t volunteering for CUESA?
Hollie: The majority of my time is dedicated to the company I recently started, JoyFoodly. We teach children about the JOY of food. I like to say that our programs provide children and families with an educational playground for eating experiences. Otherwise, I’m taking every chance I get to explore this amazing California landscape. I just got back from a mushroom foraging festival in Big Sur.
CUESA: Where does your interest in food come from?
Hollie: I am a trained chef, but my first strong tie to food came from my family. We are a Southern family that loves good food, and there’s a ton of it in Charleston, South Carolina, where I grew up. My later travels and the chance to live in France and Brazil expanded my palate and excited me to learn more. With food, there is always something new to learn, which is why I love it and why I love to share this passion through my work with kids.
CUESA: What made you want to volunteer for CUESA?
Hollie: A wonderful colleague told me CUESA was the first organization I had to get to know as a new chef and resident of San Francisco. And, boy, was she right! I found a community of wonderful food stewards in CUESA that I greatly admire and enjoy learning from. CUESA was my first real community in San Francisco. It’s where I learn and where I’ve made friends, and I love volunteering with Elianna for the Foodwise Kids program.
CUESA: What has it been like to help develop the Foodwise Kids program?
Hollie: I was so excited and honored when Elianna invited me to collaborate on her already successful program plan with ideas that came from my experience creating kids cooking programs. One thing we do that’s been really well received is having the kids taste a fruit or vegetable from the market before they shop for their market topping. They taste, we talk about it, and they get invested in the class from the get-go. And we love when we ask each child what was their favorite part of the day was at the end of the class, many of them say, “Everything.” Then we have them all shout at the top of their lungs, “Thank you, farmers!”
CUESA: Do you have any interesting stories from volunteering with CUESA?
Hollie: Absolutely! I had a bi-lingual fourth-grade group in our Foodwise Kids class that I took out in the market to shop with their own CUESA coins for the market topping they would prepare for their homemade cracker. Before the field trip, their teacher had taught them about the five tastes: sour, sweet, salty, bitter, and savory (umami). As they shopped, sometimes speaking in English and sometimes in Spanish, they would say things that made me smile like, “Wait! Did we buy anything bitter yet? We can’t have only sweet.” And with this, I only had to help guide them, but they were making the decisions. They tasted samples the farmers provided, deciding the arugula was too peppery for them, but they liked the spinach. They were absorbing these new food concepts like sponges—healthy sponges!
CUESA: Do you have any seasonal market tips for our shoppers?
Hollie: Hapa Ramen is my favorite prepared food vendor. I love to get their seasonal pork ramen and add extra veggies. They always make you feel so valued as a customer! Also, if you are looking for a CSA share, please look to Eatwell Farm. I cannot say enough great things about this farm, the family that runs it, and the extraordinary produce you’ll receive.
CUESA: What’s your favorite thing to make in the kitchen?
Hollie: I love to come up with creative ways to fully enjoy the enormous CSA box we receive every two weeks from Eatwell Farm. From the last shipment, we made the most delicious broccoli soup, braised some of their red cabbage with onions, mushrooms, thyme, and a dash of port, and devoured the citrus and pomegranates in our morning kale shakes.
Beets at Sunset Dip
Source: Chef Hollie Greene
If you are looking for a great appetizer that’s easy and delicious and will visually wow guests, try this Beets at Sunset Dip. It’s a great way to start your dinner party as guests are arriving. I’ve even taken it to a gleaning potluck party, so it travels well!
4 large red beets (or 5 or 6 small ones)
2 large golden beets
4 ounces goat cheese
Juice of ½ orange
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (or fig balsamic vinegar)
Chives, small dice
Crackers or baguette slices
1. Place beets, skins intact, in a pot and cover with cold water. Bring up to a simmer and then turn to low-medium heat and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, until soft. Test with a small knife for doneness.
2. Drain the beets and let cool until easy to handle. With a small knife, peel off the skin of the beets.
3. Place the red beets, goat cheese, orange juice, and vinegar in a blender and blend until smooth. Add salt for desired taste.
4. Cut the golden beets into discs and then cut into small cubes, then them toss in a little olive oil and salt.
5. To assemble, place a dollop of the red beet purée on the end of your cracker or baguette slice, top with 2 or 3 yellow beet cubes, and sprinkle diced green chives on top. Enjoy!
CUESA (Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture) is dedicated to cultivating a sustainable food system through the operation of farmers markets and educational programs. Learn More »