For Karen Washington, a tomato was the first plant to change her life. The process of reaping something from seed to plant to table fascinated her, so she decided to take up gardening in the backyard of her home in the Tremont neighborhood of the Bronx, New York.  In 1988, her home gardening hobby expanded into a passion for community and beautification when plans were put in place to turn an empty, garbage-strewn lot across the street from her home into a community garden. Called the Garden of Happiness, the garden serves as a small-scale co-op for Bronx locals, and its success led to the founding of the Black Urban Growers (BUGs) in 2009. BUGs now has 500 members nationwide and focuses on empowering black farmers and encouraging members to not be afraid of putting their hands in the soil and being proud of growing food for themselves and the community. For Karen, growing food isn’t just about putting something on the table; it’s about encouraging equity and fairness in underrepresented populations. 


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  • Learn more about the Garden of Happiness and it’s work in the Bronx community.
  • Support Black Urban Growers in your area and learn more about their mission.
  • Find a community garden in your area or start your own, with these tips from Create the Good.

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