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.