It is often said that food is the common denominator that brings people together. Yet we are finding that food can either improve health outcomes or cause health problems, especially in marginalized communities.
How can we work together to fix a food system that is broken? Or is it broken?
Join nationally celebrated food justice icons and growers Karen Washington and Jovan Sage as they share how they connect their communities to fresh, locally grown food. They’ll be joined in conversation by local food activist Richard Morris, who will describe work being done through the Urban Agriculture Collective of Charlottesville to improve food equity and enhance the quality of life in our city. Come learn how food can heal communities and unite us together in a common goal of better health, social justice and well-being!
Farmer and Community Activist
Karen Washington has lived in New York City all her life and has spent decades promoting urban farming as a way for all New Yorkers to access fresh, locally grown food. A resident of the Bronx for more than 25 years, she has been striving to make NYC a better place to live.
As a gardener and board member of the New York Botanical Gardens, Washington worked with Bronx neighborhoods to turn empty lots into community gardens. As an advocate, she stood up and spoke out for garden protection and preservation. As a member of La Familia Verde Community Garden, she helped launch “City Farms Market”, bringing garden fresh vegetables to her neighbors.
Today, Washington is a Just Food board member and trainer, leading workshops on food growing and food justice for community gardeners. She is a board member and past president of the New York City Community Garden Coalition, and founder of Black Urban Growers (BUGS), an organization of volunteers committed to building networks and community support for growers in both urban and rural settings.
In 2012 Ebony magazine voted Washington one of the 100 most influential African Americans in the country. In 2014 she was awarded the James Beard Leadership Award and began “Rise & Root Farm”, a cooperatively run farm in the black dirt region of Orange County, New York.
Herbalist at Gilliard Farms
Jovan Sage’s days are steeped in transforming seeds into plants and plants into enriching teas, hearty medicine and delicious dishes. As the alchemist behind Sage’s Larder, she guides people to find their own healing and resiliency through food, tea and plants.
Sage is the resident herbalist and Chicken Whisperer at Gilliard Farms – an African American Georgia Centennially organic farm. She was also one half of The Farmer & The Larder – a restaurant and culinary event space that focused on exploring shared foodways and culture which received a James Beard nomination before closing in December 2018.
Sage has spent 15 years working with local, national and international non-profit organizations and spent the last 8 years focusing on sustainability, food and agriculture, including working as a food retail consultant and Engagement Director for Slow Food USA in New York City.
Sage believes in bringing people together through the common language of food. She currently volunteers as Board Chair of Seed Savers Exchange and is the founding President of the Savannah & Coastal Georgia chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier International.
Photo: ‘Kate Blohm for PeachDish
Urban Agriculture Collective, Charlottesville
Richard Morris has 33 years of experience as a graphic and software designer/developer, writer, teacher, and project manager. He has worked in the corporate space across multiple industries, including aerospace, healthcare, education, finance, and farming. For ten years, he worked at Polyface Farm, at the foot of the Shenandoah Mountains, and has a lifetime of experience in the garden. Morris has raised pigs, chickens, and turkeys on a small Foodstead in Central Virginia with his wife and daughters. Currently, he works at City Schoolyard Garden, where he oversees the operations of the Urban Agriculture Collective of Charlottesville as the farm and foodroots program director.