Karen Washington to Receive James Beard Foundation Leadership Award

Karen Washington will be honored at the Fourth Annual James Beard Foundation Leadership Awards on October 27th along with Mark Bittman, Ben Burkett, Navina Khanna, and Michael Pollan. Karen is being recognized for her work in urban agriculture and the impact her leadership has had on the Bronx and beyond.

“I am a grassroots person receiving this award, and hopefully it will make a statement.” says Karen, a community activist and Just Food board member who has been involved with the organization for more than a decade.

“My work isn’t finished, and hopefully this award will open more doors. I hope the audience will leave thinking about food justice and what it means,” says Karen. “Everyone should have the right to food that is fresh, local, and healthy, no matter their race, income, or age. It must be inclusive, there can’t be any barriers.”
Although Karen retired from her day job as a physical therapist this past spring, she is busier than ever. 
“I have the opportunity to do more now,” she says. “I want to do more mentoring and leadership. I want to see more youth involved in the food movement, and more people of color.”
She helped found the La Familia Verde Garden Coalition in 1998 when the city was auctioning off community gardens. The Coalition has played an important role in revitalizing the Bronx neighborhoods where these gardens grow.
Karen first got involved with Just Food when La Familia Verde was looking to launch its own community-run farmers’ market.  La Familia Verde Farmers’ Market, which sources produce from five different Bronx-based gardens, is celebrating its 11th season, and was the first community-run farmers’ market Just Food helped establish.
The market continues to grow – there are now several paid employees, including Karen herself as Market Manager, an EBT Manager and a driver. This past year, Karen also piloted La Familia Verde’s Farm Truck program to deliver fresh produce to seniors in the community who can’t make it to the market. She hopes to expand this program next season and increase the number of neighbors they can serve.
“People can make a difference simply by sharing a meal with someone who doesn’t know good food but deserves to eat well. If we all share our wealth and resources, everyone can eat well.”
We know that the entire Just Food community joins us in congratulating Karen on this recognition for her achievements in the field. Karen – thank you for continuing to inspire us every day! 
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