Brower Youth Awards

Katherine Martínez Medina

Vieques, Puerto Rico

Promoting food sovereignty and mutual aid

Katherine Martínez Medina, 21, grew up on the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico watching sunsets on the most beautiful of beaches — beaches that had been used by the US Navy to test bombs for more than 60 years. Growing up in this toxic environment contaminated by mercury, lead and arsenic in the water and air, on an island that imports more than 90 percent of its food and where prices are 40 percent higher than on the main island of Puerto Rico, spurred Medina to environmental activism at a young age.

In 2020, she got involved in La Colmena Cimarrona, a women-led, local agriculture initiative formed in the wake of Hurricane Maria’s destruction of the island in 2017. La Colmena Cimarrona seeks to achieve food sovereignty in Vieques, develop a local solidarity economy that promotes mutual support and equity, and fight displacement and land speculation on the island. Medina — who is in charge of identifying community needs, facilitating communication, and serves as a link between different grassroots organizations at the national and international level — has helped shape many of La Colmena Cimarrona’s efforts and principles. Through this community farm, Medina is helping build an oasis of hope.

Profile Film

Acceptance Speech