Monday, July 6, 2009

Fighting poverty through gardening education

The New York Times Magazine this weekend featured a well-known figure in the sustainable agriculture world, Will Allen, of Growing Power farm in urban Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Allen has succeeded in growing large amounts of food in relatively little space, using every square inch and resource in the 14 greenhouses he has crammed into a 2-acre plot. He is especially known for his love of worms, the main actors behind his revered compost and composting operation, which takes thousands of pounds of city waste annually and converts into rich, "near-perfection" soil. "Street Farmer" (7/7/09).

Allen has been recognized nationally for his work fighting poverty through urban agriculture: in 2005, he received a $100,000 Ford Foundation grant; in 2008 he was the recipient of the esteemed MacArthur Foundation "genius" award, which itself came with $500,000. And in May, Allen received $400,000 from the Kellogg Foundation to create jobs in urban agriculture. With that money, he's been able to harvest more than $250,000 worth of food each year for the hungry in his city.

Allen's Growing Power farm is featured in the soon-to-be released sustainable ag documentary "Fresh," which we are trying to get screened here in Wilmington, partnerning with Energize Clinton County. "Fresh" has been labeled as the partner film to "Food, Inc.," which was released in June and aims to expose some of the problems with monocultures and Big Agriculture. "Fresh," on the other hand, doesn't focus primarily on the detriments of Big Ag, but rather on the benefits of small, sustainable farming operations that are practicing responsible methods of growing.

Will Allen is a model of what local food should be, and hopefully this surge of publicity will only add to his success.


jennifer said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...


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