05 Aug #TXFM Presenter Will Allen Grows Food, Minds and Community
An urban farmer grows food on land in an urban area — usually either a backyard or vacant lot — that would not typically be dedicated to producing food. Urban farming differs from gardening in that many urban farmers tend animals, such as chickens, bees and rabbits, as well as plants. Urban farmers also feed more people than those in the household that tends the farm, either by selling or donating the food they grow.
Transform 2014 speaker and urban farmer Will Allen is transforming the cultivation, production and delivery of healthy foods to underserved urban populations. Allen is the chief executive officer of Growing Power, Inc. His vision is to inspire "communities to build sustainable food systems that are equitable and ecologically sound, creating a just world, one food-secure community at a time."
Since 2003, Growing Power has worked to transform communities by supporting people from diverse backgrounds and the environments in which they live through the development of community food systems, in which the production, processing, distribution and consumption of food are integrated to enhance the environmental, economic, social and nutritional health of a particular place.
These systems provide high-quality, safe, healthy, affordable food for all residents in the community. Growing Power develops community food centers — local places where people can learn sustainable practices to grow, process, market and distribute food — and provides training, active demonstrations, outreach and technical assistance.
Allen's goal for Growing Power is "to grow food, to grow minds, and to grow community." He believes that there cannot be healthy communities without healthy food systems. If people can grow safe, healthy, affordable food and have access to land and clean water, he says, the combination is transformative on every level in a community.
Growing Power's projects focus on three areas: grow, bloom and thrive.
Growing Power demonstrates easy-to-replicate growing methods through workshops and demonstrations. It has farms in Merton, Wis., Milwaukee and Chicago. It has also established satellite training sites in Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Massachusetts and Mississippi.
Growing Power educates people through local, national and international outreach for farmers and communities. It runs multiple youth programs, has an active volunteer base and works actively on policy initiatives regarding agriculture.
Food production occurs at Growing Power's demonstration greenhouses in Milwaukee, a rural farm in Merton and urban farms in Milwaukee and Chicago. The organization distributes produce, grass-based meats and value-added products through the activities of more than 300 small family farmers in the Rainbow Farmers Cooperative and the organization's year-round food security Farm-to-City Market Basket Program. Growing Power also sells to restaurants and small grocery stores in Chicago, Madison, Wis., and Milwaukee.
About Will Allen
Allen, an authority in the expanding field of urban agriculture, promotes the belief that all people should always have access to fresh, safe, affordable and nutritious foods, regardless of their economic circumstances. Using methods he has developed, Allen trains community members to become community farmers, assuring them a secure source of good food.
- In 2008, Allen was named a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellow for his work.
- In 2010, he was invited to the White House to join First Lady Michelle Obama to launch Let’s Move!, a program that helps raise a healthier generation of kids and reverse the epidemic of childhood obesity in America. In May 2010, Time magazine named Allen to the Time 100 World’s Most Influential People.
- In 2011, Allen was named one of the world's seven most powerful foodies by Forbes magazine.
- In 2012, he was honored with the National Education Association Security Benefit Corporation Award for Outstanding Service to Public Education for his work with children, teachers and schools.
- Allen is a member of the Clinton Global Initiative.
In 2012, Allen, who lives in Milwaukee, published The Good Food Revolution, Growing Healthy Food, People, and Communities, the story of his personal journey, the lives he has touched and the grassroots movement that is changing the way the Americans eat.
Get your ticket for Transform 2014 to see Will Allen here.