Volunteer Spotlight: Nicole Keene

Nicole Keene (left) with her daughter, Livia, volunteering at one of the summer Farm Potlucks.

SH: How did you become interested in helping Sierra Harvest (SH)?

NK: I wanted a job at SH, so I set out to be indispensable. I hadn’t worked in 17 years, and I didn’t want to be somewhere that doesn’t feed my soul – I’m too old. I needed something super part time because I still drive my kids to school, and mountain bike team, and yoga. But I want to have a career when I’m done with all of this. Ten years ago Aimee Retzler and I looked at the chocolate milk in school lunches at our kids’ school, and we wanted to improve the quality of the food and reduce the waste we were seeing with school food. I’ve watched her in amazement for the last decade, and I still wanted to be part of it.

SH: What do you do for SH?

NK: I volunteer in the Food Love Garden for the school tours. I help at Yuba River Charter – she is truly teaching them the science of composting and nitrogen fixation in the garden. My daughter Livia and I love leading the farm tours at the potlucks – it’s so much fun. We greet people as they arrive and tell them about Sierra Harvest. I helped Rachel Berry with the Food and Farm Conference and learned a boatload. And now I am an assistant to Malaika and Aimee for 7-10 hours/week, and I get paid! I get to work with Aimee and Sara on school tastings and much more.

Nicole Keene volunteering at the Annual Food & Farm Conference, 2017 (Photo by Kurtis Ostrom)

SH: What do you love about volunteering for SH?

NK: There are so many things that I love about SH. I love how SH is educating our community about the importance of supporting our farmers, the health of our kids through the food that they ingest, and also linking our kids to their food sources. I love that they build gardens for families and support farmers. I love that they help our farming community. I love that they hire women who are changemakers in their fields. (Editorial Note: no pun intended) I love the seed (Yes, another pun – this one might have been intentional) that Aimee helped plant ten years ago, and I love to have the opportunity to watch what that has turned into. I think that this group of people is amazing.

SH: What do you like to do when you are not at SH?

NK: I love to read, love my book club. I love spending time with my teenagers. I love watching them become young adults. Hiking. We are a hiking and water skiing family. I love cooking. I’m a food nerd.

SH: Favorite local food?

NK: The mare de bois strawberries from Mountain Bounty at the farmer’s market. They never leave the farmer’s market, except in our digestive systems. And I love Three Forks and what Shana has done there.