Will Allen: Urban Farmer


Last month I wrote a post about Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People,” which included urban farmer, Will Allen. I was pleased to see him appear, once again, in this month’s issue of Bon Appetit.

This guy is a great role model for all of us. Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the nonprofit Growing Power in Milwaukee, Allen planted his first garden in the 1970s. He’s the son of a sharecropper, a former professional basketball player, an ex-corporate sales leader, and now a farmer who has become recognized as among the preeminent thinkers of our time on agriculture and food policy.

The goals of Growing Power are simple: to grow food, to grow minds, and to grow community. Allen promotes the belief that all people, regardless of their economic circumstances, should have access to fresh, safe, affordable and nutritious foods at all times. Using methods he has developed over a lifetime, Allen trains community members to become community farmers, assuring them a secure source of good food without regard to political or economic forces.

In addition to the magazine articles cited above, Allen has been featured in The New York Times, “FRESH” the movie, The Huffington Post, and on YouTube. In 2009, he was listed as one of Fast Company’s100 Most Creative People in Business.”

I like his no-nonsense approach to farming, as quoted in Bon Appetit: “Historically, almost everyone did garden at home—perhaps on a patio or in a backyard. So there’s nothing new about urban farming; we’re simply resurrecting a longtime trend.”

If you’d like to have a garden or work in a garden, you don’t need your own dirt. Check out the American Community Gardening Association to find a community garden in your area. Or visit UrbanFarming.org to find volunteer opportunities where you live.

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