We All Need Heroes

I’m going to say something I thought I’d never say…one of my heroes is a basketball player. (Hey, unless a sport involves a draft horse, I’m not paying any attention to it.) Will Allen has changed my mind about the potential a sports figure can have.

Inner cities have the worst access to good food. You can find lots of fast food and convenience stores there, but no fresh, organic food. Mr. Allen founded Growing Power,
which has created a revolution in urban agriculture. He’s shown that healthy, sustainable food can be successfully grown in very small urban spaces. He’s pioneered vertical and fully integrated growing systems, training people how to use them to transform their lives. The Milwaukee Headquarters is at the epicenter. In their own words:

“This historic two-acre farm is the last remaining farm and greenhouse operation in the City of Milwaukee. Since 1999, our Community Food Center has provided a wonderful space for hands-on activities, large-scale demonstration projects, and for growing a myriad of plants, vegetables, and herbs. In a space no larger than a small supermarket live some 20,000 plants and vegetables, thousands of fish, and a livestock inventory of chickens, goats, ducks, rabbits, and bees.”

Growing Power now has multiple farms, training programs, farmers markets, youth outreach, and food policy initiatives. All of these aim to change the way food is grown and delivered to urban markets, providing better health for those who don’t have access and can’t usually afford fresh, organic foods.

Last year, Will Allen was awarded a McArthur fellowship to continue his vital work. This February, he visited Seattle and talked about the need for a multi-cultural, inter-generational approach to creating a new food growing paradigm. “All people should have access to food – and we’ve proven we can do it.”