Karen Washington

Karen Washington, Community activist, gardener and farmer, co-owner Rise & Root Farm; has lived in New York City all her life and has been a resident of the Bronx for over 26 years. Since 1985 Karen has been a community activist, striving to make New York City a better place to live. As a community gardener and board member of the New York Botanical Gardens, Karen has worked with Bronx neighborhoods to turn empty lots into community gardens. As a member of La Familia Verde Garden Coalition, she helped launched a City Farms Market, bringing fresh vegetables to her neighbors. Karen is a Just Food board member and Just Food Trainer, leading workshops on food growing and food justice to community gardeners all over the city. Karen is a board member and former president of the New York City Community Garden Coalition, a group that was founded to protect and preserve community gardens. She co- founded Black Urban Growers (BUGS), an organization of volunteers committed to building networks and community support for growers in both urban and rural settings and has been key to Farm School NYC, whose mission is to train NYC residents in urban agriculture. In 2012 Ebony magazine voted her one of their 100 most influential African Americans in the country and last year she received the 2014 James Beard Leadership Award. Professionally, Karen had been a Physical Therapist for 37 years, balancing her professional life with community service. Since retiring in April 2014, she is pursuing her passion for farming full-time at the Rise and Root Farm.


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