Karen Washington is a farmer and community activist, striving to make the New York City a better place to live. As a community gardener and board member of the New York Botanical Gardens, she worked with Bronx neighborhoods to turn empty lots into community gardens. As an advocate, and former president of the New York City Community Garden Coalition, she stood up and spoke out for garden protection and preservation. As a member of the La Familia Verde Garden Coalition, she helped launch a City Farms Market, bringing fresh vegetables to the community.
Karen is a board member of Soul Fire Farm and organization committed to undoing racism and injustice in the food system. Former board member of Farm School NYC, leading workshops on growing food and food justice across the country and Why Hunger a grassroots support organization aimed at ending hunger. In 2010, Co- Founded Black Urban Growers (BUGS) an organization supporting growers in both urban and rural settings, and most recently in 2019 co- founded Black Farmer Fund aimed at supporting black farms and businesses with capital and resources in New York State.
In 2012, Ebony magazine voted her one of their 100 most influential African Americans in the country and in 2014 was the recipient of the James Beard Leadership Award. Recently in 2020 Essence magazine name Karen one of their Essential Heroes recipient. Since retiring from Physical Therapy in 2014, Karen is Co-owner/Farmer at Rise & Root Farm in Chester, New York.