Meet our Volunteers: Angela Renee Chase
The first five years of her life (and summers after that,) Angela Renee Chase spent alongside her grandparents in Durant gardening vegetables, growing flowers, harvesting fruit, and fishing. It’s no wonder she can easily identify plants—“Show me a tomato plant and I can identify it by its smell.”
Both grandmothers and her parents were also cooks. Angela’s been cooking all her life—and enjoying eating.
However, growing and cooking food wasn’t her first thought for a career. Though she started growing things on her own in 2005 (an habanero pepper plant in a pot,) she worked as an architectural drafter for six years until the economy fell apart in 2008. She went to work at The Earth, a health food store and restaurant in Norman. When someone donated plants, Angela took some home and began growing food in her backyard. She also began composting, as staff was doing at The Earth. “I had some failures, but I had successes,” she says. “I wanted to eat healthy food and I wondered if I could do the whole process.”
Turns out, she can and does. She gardens at home, volunteers at CommonWealth (she lived next to the farm for awhile, and still lives in the community) and is a chef, and a pastry chef who has worked at several Oklahoma City restaurants and Urban Agrarian. Angela is working toward fulfilling a dream: a project in the neighborhood that will add further dimensions to the local food system centered around the urban farm—“correlating, solidifying ethics and accountability of food. I’d like to establish something of a work space that operates the way The Earth operates.”
Currently volunteering at CommonWealth, she says her time on the farm is a matter of “touching base. It’s relating to literal happiness. I support the ethical intention here. There is a profound understanding of the importance of what’s being done here; there is an uncompromising set of values; there is a chance to show people: this is how it’s done. I want to help push that model, and push the envelope.”
Besides volunteering her time on the farm, Angela is supporting the work of CommonWealth by sharing her space this coming season at the Paseo Farmer’s Market, which will be open Saturday mornings, beginning April 27. Her “mini-market” there will offer her wonderful homemade pastries, along with CommonWealth’s produce and starter plants.
We are grateful to get to work alongside Angela!—Pat