FOUA’s First Annual Golden Radish Award: Puwen Lee

It gives us great pleasure to present Puwen Lee with our first annual Golden Radish Award, recognizing her extraordinary contributions to growing urban agriculture in Arlington. Puwen was an original member of the Arlington County Urban Agriculture Task Force, and is an Arlington Healthy Community Action Team member and a Master Gardener.

Most people know her work at the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC). Puwen joined AFAC in 2005, first as a volunteer and later as the head of the Volunteer Department.  Since 2014 she has served as Associate Director of the AFAC Program Division and manages AFAC’s Plot Against Hunger Program, a project that seeks to bring fresh produce to AFAC clients from local farmers, gardeners, farmers markets, gleaning organizations and other sources. Since she started the “Plot” program in 2007, it has grown within Arlington area, to 29 schools, 20 churches, fifteen community-based gardens, eight farmers markets, three CSA (community supported agriculture) groups, three gleaning organizations, as well as numerous individual gardeners.  Since its first season in 2007, over 600,000 pounds of fresh produce have been donated to AFAC’s Plot Against Hunger project.  In 2018 alone, AFAC volunteers picked up 55,282 pounds of farm fresh produce for needy families in Arlington.

She spearheaded the creation of a schoolyard garden at Ashlawn Elementary School, a garden which has become integrated into the school curriculum and which donates fresh produce to AFAC. She also played a pivotal role in the creation of the Central Library garden, without which there would be no garden talks, and no tool lending library.

If you have had the pleasure of working along side this incredible garden leader, you will know that she can tackle the smallest garden chore to the most complicated logistics challenges. We cannot think of another person that will time and time again rise to the moment with passion in her heart and a smile on her face.