Karen Washington

Rise and Root Farm

Karen Washington, community activist and the “Queen of Urban Gardening”, found her passion when she started to grow her own vegetable in the Bronx, New York in 1985. Since then Ms. Washington has strived to make New York a better place to live. As a community gardener and board member of New York Botanical Gardens she has worked in Bronx neighborhoods to turn empty lots into community gardens. As a member of the La Familia Verde Community Garden Coalition she started a City Farmers Markets where she sells her produce.

Through the organization Just Food, Ms. Washington leads workshops on food growing and food justice for community gardeners in New York. She is also a board member and former president of the New York City Community Garden Coalition, a group that was founded to preserve community gardens. In addition, 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. In 2012 Ebony Magazine voted her one of the 100 most influential African Americans in the country, and in 2014 she was awarded the James Beard Leadership Award.