Former farm apprentice wins national food sustainability leadership award

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Karen Washington was also honored by First Lady Michelle Obama in 2010 for establishing urban gardens in the Bronx.

Karen Washington, a graduate of the 2008 Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture at the UC Santa Cruz Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, is one of five winners of a James Beard Foundation Leadership Award.

Washington, former president of the New York City Community Garden Coalition, is being honored for the impact she has had on the revitalization of neighborhoods in the Bronx through the establishment of urban gardens, as well as national efforts to promote green jobs, healthy diets, and community gardens.

Washington joins other honorees, Mark Bittman,  New York Times journalist; Ben Burkett, farmer and state coordinator for the State of Mississippi, Federation of Southern Cooperatives;  Navina Khanna, fellow, Movement Strategy Center; and Michael Pollan, best-selling author and professor. They were selected by past honorees.

The five will be feted at a dinner at the James Beard Foundation’s annual food conference October 27 in New York. The foundation, named for the late cookbook author and teacher, is dedicated to highlighting the importance of food and culinary arts in our culture and establishing links between them, the community, and key sustainability and public health issues.

The Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture began at UC Santa Cruz in 1967 and has earned an international reputation for the skill and knowledge of its instructors and researchers. Its nearly 1,500 graduates have established commercial farms and market gardens, organized and run community gardens for inner city and prison populations, and developed school gardening programs across the nation and globe.

The Center also serves undergraduates and the public, and is dedicated to increasing ecological sustainability and social justice in the food system, while creating the next generation of leaders in sustainable agriculture.