November Volunteer of the Month – Carolyn Nealis

Carolyn Nealis grew up in New Jersey with a home vegetable garden. She and her mother would grow as many different kinds of fruits and vegetables as the feeble sunlight in the yard would permit. Carolyn would often marvel at how different the carrots they grew tasted from the store-bought variety. They also grew strawberries, although the local squirrel population typically benefitted more than the humans!

Two years ago, she and her husband moved to California. Leaving her job as a software developer, Carolyn decided to go back to school and pursue nutrition. She heard about Veggielution from a classmate and quickly fell in love with the farm and the collective effort of the community. “I think that this is really important work - spreading knowledge about sustainable farming practices and healthy food, and bringing people together in the process,” Carolyn states.

During her time as an Admin Intern, Carolyn started working with Veggielution’s Distribution Manager Colleen Hotchkiss to develop recipes for the CSA Farm Box program. Every week she would review the planned contents for the Box, and conjure up two tasty recipes using the listed items for members to enjoy. “It's been really awesome to hear feedback about the recipes from the CSA participants.  I think that cooking can be intimidating for a lot of people, especially when there are unfamiliar vegetables involved, so I try to make the recipes fairly simple and approachable,” Carolyn shares. “It's always nice to hear when someone has tried and had success with a recipe!”  

Now a full-time student in the Master’s Program in Nutritional Science at San Jose State University, Carolyn finds herself with little free time. However, she’s still able to contribute to Veggielution by continuing to work on the weekly Farm Box recipes, albeit remotely. She also makes it out to the farm on occasional Saturdays to volunteer “live” and pick up some yummy veggies. “I like feeling like I am a part of this community, even if I am usually participating from afar these days,” she says.
 
Last year Carolyn also managed to scrape out the precious hours required to volunteer for the Bounty of Heart’s Delight dinner. “It was so cool to see the farm transformed into this magical setting for one evening and to meet people who are dedicated to Veggielution’s mission. I love being able to help Veggielution in any way,” she raves.

We couldn’t agree more, Carolyn. Thank you for all of your hard, enthusiastic work!