As a child, Jared Cates played in the kitchen of Pyewacket, Chapel Hill’s original health foods restaurant, where his father was a longtime chef. Cates may have turned his nose up at the natural peanut butter sandwiches on whole wheat bread that his parents packed for his school lunches, but growing up in a family that raised and ate healthy food did have an influence on him. After several years in the human services field and with a graduate degree in social work in hand, Cates is now the Community Mobilizer at the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, a job that perfectly marries his desire to give back with his passion for encouraging people to grow and eat local, organic foods.
From 2007 – 2009, Cates coordinated the community service program at Volunteers for Youth. “I have so many memorable moments from working at VFY. One particular moment that I’ll never forget happened in the Northside Community Garden, where we had a few garden plots that the kids would work for community service. On this particular day we were digging up potatoes that seemed like they had been growing forever. The group of kids digging up potatoes was different than the group that had initially planted the crop, so they didn’t really know what to expect. In the middle of digging up our spuds, one young man stopped working to examine a potato and had a slight epiphany: “Wait, is this where french fries come from?” He asked, looking slightly confused. “Yes, this is where french fries come from. Did you know that potatoes grew in the ground?” I explained. The group then dove into a conversation about food and fast food and why some youth cared what they ate, and why some didn’t even think about what they ate on a daily basis. I really do miss those days of working with our groups in gardens all around Orange County, even when it was 90 degrees outside and only two youth showed up to work.”
Category: 30 Years