Manna Food Center of Gaithersburg accepts its 2016 Bethesda Green Award for Innovation Thursday night at Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club. Left to right: Véronique Marier, executive director of Bethesda Green; Jackie DeCarlo, executive director of Manna Food; Cheryl Kollin, project manager for Community Food Rescue; and Steve Hull, editor and publisher of Bethesda Magazine. Credit: Grace Toohey

Solar energy to light impoverished communities. Educating youth to think green. Making coffee sustainable from seed to cup. Fighting for trees in the midst of development.

These are some of the innovations and initiatives of the winners of the 2016 Bethesda Magazine Green Awards. The awards were presented Thursday night at the seventh annual Bethesda Green Gala at the Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club.

Veronique Marier, executive director of Bethesda Green, and Steve Hull, editor and publisher of Bethesda Magazine announced the seven Green Awards recipients—chosen from 45 nominations in three categories.

Blessed Coffee in Takoma Park and Manna Food Center in Gaithersburg both won Innovation Awards. Started by Ethiopian couple Sara Mussie and Tebabu Assefa, Blessed Coffee works with local Ethiopian farmers to create coffee beans from sustainable growing practices, but also to ensure their success through a business model called “virtuous exchange,” which goes farther than fair trade. The couple plans on opening a shop in Takoma Park in 2017.

Manna Food Center Community Food Rescue won for its commitment to serving the county’s hungry residents.  The nonprofit uses a software called Chow Match to find businesses that want to donate excess food. The food is then picked up and delivered to those who need it.

TD Bank on Old Georgetown Road and Woodmont Avenue in Bethesda and Bell Nursery, with a location in Silver Spring, were co-winners of the Leading by Example Award for businesses. TD Bank uses solar panels, a green roof, ivy walls and recycled products to make its building and business as green as possible. Bell Nursery, which supplies flowers and plants across the Mid-Atlantic, has continued to work with Home Depot to recycle millions of plastic pots. The company also has converted two of its facilities entirely to wind power and has promoted the production of native plants.


Poolesville High School won a Leading by Example award for its global ecology magnet program—but also its school- wide initiatives, many of which are led by students, to increase conservation and environmental awareness.

The local-impact Individual Leadership Award went to Bethesda resident Amanda Farber. She worked to bring back trees and shade to her East Bethesda neighborhood by lobbying the county government.Her efforts resulted in the planting of 90 trees in 2015 and will bring 130 new trees in 2017.

Silver Spring resident Neha Misa won a Individual Leadership Award for globab impact for Solar Sisters, a D.C.-based venture that works to bring solar power to women in three African countries. The venture provides solar-powered devices such as lanterns, phone chargers and cooking stoves to customers in those countries.


The award recipients will be featured in the November-December issue of Bethesda Magazine.

The gala, which was attended by more than 200 people, brought together environmental leaders from through Montgomery County.

“Impactful green stories do not happen overnight, they build on passion, courage, and all of us,” said Marier.  “There is so much to be excited by.”


Attendees could explore and, in some cases, taste the products of green ventures at the event, such as green lunchbags from Lunchskins, organic drinks from Honest Tea, plant-based protein from Beyond Meat and coffee from award- winner Blessed Coffee.

“It’s a real exciting moment to be in the green industry,” said Seth Goldman, co-founder of Bethesda Green and head of Honest Tea.