We came together with a common dream, to continue our food justice work by growing food and community beyond the city boundaries. We believe we can accomplish more together than any one of us could do on our own.
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.
“To grow your own food gives you power and dignity. You know exactly what you’re eating because you grew it.It’s good, it’s nourishing and you did this for yourself, your family and your community.” Karen Washington
Planting seeds and riding the waterwheel at Roxbury Farm.
Lorrie is a full time farmer with Rise & Root Farm, and she joins us after a rich career in farming, community gardening, community organizing and food & farm education. Most recently, Lorrie returned to the east coast after two years farming in Santa Cruz at the University of California Santa Cruz Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS). Lorrie was a second year apprentice, serving as an assistant garden manager and educator/mentor for more than 30 first-year apprentices.
Previously, Lorrie was a community gardener at Taqwa Community Farm in the Bronx for several seasons. She is a founding member of Black Urban Growers (BUGs), an organization committed to building networks and community support for black growers, and she served as the Volunteer General Coordinator for their first annual Black Farmers & Urban Gardeners Conference in 2010. Lorrie is a founding member of Farm School NYC and has remained part of the Executive Board since its inception in 2008, helping to develop curriculum and programming around innovative urban farming education. Her career in food sovereignty work began in 2007 with Just Food, where she supported the work of diverse NYC communities through CSAs, community-based farmers markets, and advocacy around local food and community gardens. Her relationship to Just Food spanned a range of roles including Board member, Brooklyn's Bounty Market Coordinator, Administrative Assistant and Website Manager. She also was the first Capacity Building Coordinator for WhyHunger's Grassroots Action Network Program. At WhyHunger, Lorrie provided resources, information and networking opportunities to strengthen and support thousands of community based organizations across the country. She also managed the development and implementation of the Community Learning Project for Food Justice (CLP), a nationwide peer-to-peer mentoring service.
Lorrie is excited to bring her range of experiences to the Let's Get Farming team!
Nothing could make Jane Hodge happier than working outside, being physically active, and feeding people. That's why she loves farming - it's a combination of all of those things. Her favorite farming moments involve working beside someone who is farming for the first time and discovering a genuine love for growing food. That's what it's all about for her.
Jane believes that farming & food is the center of everything - it's where families unite, communities celebrate culture, it's where social justice meets environmental rights. Food is a basic human right, and she sees farming as the tool that helps us feed ourselves and our communities. She has committed her professional life to supporting others who grow food, especially in New York City, where fresh produce is much more difficult to find than a pack of cigarettes or a candy bar. We have so much work to do to help ourselves and our communities return to good health, and she is happy to be part of the solution.
Over the past few years, Jane has farmed with some incredible local farms, including Obercreek Farm in Wappingers Falls (where she reaffirmed her love of growing tomatoes), Snug Harbor Heritage Farm in Staten Island (where she fell in love with selling to restaurants), and Roxbury Farm in Kinderhook, NY (where she learned from the best about farming efficiently). She completed a six month apprenticeship with the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS) in Santa Cruz, CA, and received their Certificate in Ecological Horticulture. She looks forward to continuing to learn from other local farmers.
In addition to farming rurally, Jane spent nine years supporting urban farming and urban farming education. Up until May 2014, she was the founding Farm School NYC Program Director. Jane also worked with Just Food for nine years, starting out as an Americorps* VISTA working with La Familia Verde's and Bissel's farmers markets. She then served as the City Farms Market Coordinator, helping to build a strong network of community-based farmers markets run by city farmers. Before becoming Director of Farm School NYC, she worked as the City Farms Program Manager, working with a great network of Just Food trainers, chicken keepers, and market managers.
Jane received a BA at University of Richmond in Leadership Studies with a concentration in Environmental Leadership and Social Movements and a minor in Women's Studies. Her previous experience includes working with community allotment projects in northern England.
Michaela Hayes is the founder of Crock & Jar, a New York City based food preservation company whose mission is: 1) to increase the amount of food we grow or buy from local farmers in season and 2) to preserve it so we can eat locally year round. She has been spreading the preservation message in classes and workshops throughout the Northeast since 2007. Crock & Jar’s signature line of fermented foods is available in specialty stores and markets in NYC, as well as online.
Michaela's three great loves are food, art, and science, making food preservation her perfect happy place. She began her quest for preserving food as a Just Food trainer and got to play in a walk-in full of gorgeous produce when she developed the pickling station during her tenure at Gramercy Tavern. She teaches food preservation at institutions such as Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Natural Gourmet Institute, and Stone Barns and for individual CSA groups. She also teaches a six week Community Food Arts course for Farm School NYC, helping future farmers and producers work through the ins and outs of creating a value added product. Michaela spreads her love for food preservation around the world, writing the One For The Season column for Sweet Paul magazine, and keeps it close to home as a co-organizer of the NYC Ferments Meetup group.
When Michaela isn't in the kitchen preserving food, she's in the kitchen making it beautiful as a food stylist. Before she worked in food, she worked in commercial photography, traveling the country and the world as a photo assistant and studio manager. Food styling let's Michaela get back on the set, with pots and pans instead of lights and gaff tape. You can see her food styling work here.