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 to fresh, locally grown food.
Karen has been a resident of the Bronx for over 26 years, although in 2015 she began living part time in Orange County, NY near the farm. 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 worked with Bronx neighborhoods to turn empty lots into community gardens. As an advocate, she stood up and spoken out for garden protection and preservation. As a member of the La Familia Verde Community Garden Coalition, she helped launched a City Farms Market, bringing garden fresh vegetables to her neighbors. Karen is a Just Food board member and Just Food Trainer, leading workshops on food growing and food justice for 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 preserve community gardens. She also 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 their 100 most influential African Americans in the country, and in 2014 she was awarded with the James Beard Leadership Award.
Professionally Karen was a Physical Therapist for over 30 years, and she “retired” in April 2014 to start Rise & Root Farm.