Plants & Gardens Blog

Power to Heal (Video)

Gardens and Gardeners in the Era of Covid and Climate Change

Two trailblazers in the field of urban greening, Karen Washington, urban gardening advocate and founding farmer of Rise & Root Farm, and Adrian Benepe, BBG president and CEO, assess where we are and where gardeners and gardening can take us. Presented as part of Making Brooklyn Bloom 2021.

Biographies

side by side photos of a smiling Black woman with braids and a smiling white man

Community activist Karen Washington is the co-owner and farmer at Rise & Root Farm in Chester, New York. She serves on the boards of Farm School NYC, Soul Fire Farm, and Why Hunger, and is a former board member of the New York Botanical Garden, where she worked to turn empty lots into community gardens; a former president of the New York City Community Garden Coalition; and a member of garden coalition La Familia Verde. She is the cofounder of Black Urban Growers, an organization supporting growers in both urban and rural settings, and the Black Farmer Fund, aimed at supporting black farms and businesses with capital and resources. Washington was named one of the 100 most influential African Americans by Ebony magazine in 2012, and is a recipient of a 2014 James Beard Leadership Award, and a 2020 Essence Essential Heroes Award.

Adrian Benepe, president and CEO of Brooklyn Botanic Garden, is one of the nation’s foremost experts in parks and open green spaces. He has led a variety of nonprofit and governmental organizations, with a focus on providing parks and open space for underserved communities. As senior VP and director of national programs at the Trust for Public Land from 2012 to 2020, Benepe led efforts to ensure that every city resident has a high-quality park within a 10-minute walk of home. He worked for NYC Parks & Recreation for 27 years, including 11 years as commissioner. He also served as VP at the Municipal Art Society and director of the annual fund and major gifts for the New York Botanical Garden.

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Image, top of page: Wren Rene