Happy autumn everyone!  Joe Morse here at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. This week I present to you my fifth Service Spotlight, where I interview a volunteer from one of our sites to get a better sense of what they bring to our volunteer program, and any other cool tidbits about them.

This October I had the pleasure of interviewing Cheryl Cazenave.  Cheryl is a long term volunteer at the fort, working garden and the kitchen and likes to be connected with the earth.  She also sometimes volunteers in the kitchen, helping cook the veggies she grew.

Our half-acre garden is a historical sample showcasing the plants and crops that were grown at the fort in the 1840’s.  Cheryl helps plan the garden plot layout and also helps with the planting, watering, weeding, and harvesting. When she is not busy with those garden duties she chats with visitors, highlighting the different varieties of plants and crops that used to grow here, what they were used for, and their relevance to today.

Here’s the transcript of my interview with Cheryl:

How long have you been volunteering at Fort Vancouver?

Almost 5 years.  In the garden and in the kitchen.

What do you typically do in the garden and in the kitchen?

In the kitchen I just help out, I’m one of the Metis.  Everything but the fire.  And in the garden I help plan the planting, research what we can grow, tend the garden, then I talk to the visitors.

How did you come to be a volunteer at Fort Vancouver?

When we moved here from Indiana, we moved into a condo and I needed a place where I could put my hands in the dirt.  I like the idea of working in a historical garden.

What were you doing in Indiana?

My husband worked primarily in turning around companies.  We’ve been all over the U.S. and Europe, and this was the last spot for us. We’ve built our dream home and it’s so nice to be out of the condo and have my own soil to play in.

What’s your favorite thing about volunteering here at Fort Vancouver?

I love talking to the visitors.  Everybody who comes to the garden is happy and interested.  It’s also cool to take an empty plot and turn it into a flourishing producer. And I work with really fun people! That’s the best part!

What keeps you volunteering?

Every growing season is new. New challenges.  And I love the people I work with!

What the biggest challenge of being a volunteer and how do you overcome that?

Probably the biggest challenge we have is the weather.  And we do what we have to do to make the conditions right for growing.  Which in the summer means a ton of watering.

What’s one thing you’d like to tell people who come to the fort?

Boy that’s a tough one.  Probably the thing that I enjoy the most is telling kids how we grow food.  Especially when we pull a clump of five or six potatoes connected by root out of the ground.

Any cool facts about yourself that people should know?

Unlike many others I never get tired of zucchini. I can eat steamed zucchini two meals a day.

That’s a wrap! Stay tuned for next month’s December Spotlight.  And come drop by our garden to see the beautiful squash, figs, hops, and other produce of the 1840’s that Cheryl and our other garden volunteers have worked so hard to grow!