When you’re at Veggielution on Saturday mornings, you will definitely see Jean Louie’s smiling face in the kitchen. Originally from the Canton region of China, Jean moved to the U.S. with her husband and five kids (3 sons and 2 daughters) to Oakland in 1964. Within a couple of months of arriving, Jean and her family moved to Salinas, where another daughter was born.
Jean’s connection with the land dates back to her childhood in a Taishan farming village, where her family maintained rice, taro and potato fields. “I didn’t really do any of the hard farm work in China,” she says modestly, “but the memory inspired me to stay close to the earth. I actually learned all about gardening here, working on my home garden with my daughters.”
It was the next generation of the Louie family that introduced Jean to Veggielution. Jean’s grandson and granddaughter began volunteering in the garden, and about a year ago, Jean joined them. She began with seed collecting, and quickly progressed to cooking in the Veggielution kitchen after her Saturday potluck contributions were met with great appreciation.
“I see all the young people working hard and I want to make sure they get good food when they’re done,” says Jean. “It makes me very happy to feed them.”
And Jean definitely puts in the effort to ensure that happens. Every Friday she preps vegetables at home: cutting, chopping, and cooking so she can bring items to the farm on Saturday morning to make it easier for everyone. She also enthusiastically recruited her friends Shirley and Hong to work in the kitchen with her each week.
Jean’s time at Veggielution is very special for her. In addition to cooking for a crowd, she enjoys meeting and chatting with other volunteers in the kitchen and around the farm. “I make friends. I get veggies so I can go home and cook with my daughter. I like it so much,” she says. “I’m really happy to come here.” And Jean, we’re so happy to have you. Congratulations on being October’s Volunteer of the Month!