A pioneering urban farmer and MacArthur “Genius Award” winner points the way to building a new food system that can feed—and heal—broken communities.
The son of a sharecropper, Will Allen had no intention of ever becoming a farmer himself. But after years in professional basketball and as an executive for Kentucky Fried Chicken and Procter & Gamble, Allen cashed in his retirement fund for a two-acre plot a half mile away from Milwaukee’s largest public housing project. The area was a food desert with only convenience stores and fast-food restaurants to serve the needs of local residents.
In the face of financial challenges and daunting odds, Allen built the country’s preeminent urban farm—a food and educational center that now produces enough vegetables and fish year-round to feed thousands of people. Employing young people from the neighboring housing project and community, Growing Power has sought to prove that local food systems can help troubled youths, dismantle racism, create jobs, bring urban and rural communities closer together, and improve public health. Today, Allen’s organization helps develop community food systems across the country.
An eco-classic in the making, The Good Food Revolution is the story of Will’s personal journey, the lives he has touched, and a grassroots movement that is changing the way our nation eats.
About Will Allen
After retiring from professional basketball and executive positions at Kentucky Fried Chicken and Procter & Gamble, Will Allen became the CEO of Growing Power. He lives in Milwaukee.
In this food manifesto/inspirational memoir, co-authored by Wilson (co-author: Chew On This: Everything You Don’t Want to Know About Fast Food, 2006), MacArthur fellow Allen chronicles his struggle to transform abandoned greenhouses in one of Milwaukee’s poorest neighborhoods into a thriving, innovative urban farm that provides fresh food for thousands of people. The author meanders from his childhood in suburban Maryland, where his once-sharecropper parents taught him to cherish the land, to his life as a star basketball player and corporate executive, to his current role as CEO of Growing Power, a not-for-profit dedicated to providing sustainable food to communities that need it. The healthy-food movement, writes the author, has remained primarily an upper-class experience, while the only option for many city dwellers is fast food or convenience stores. Already a passionate farmer, Allen decided to risk it all in 1993 to grow affordable, locally grown food for and with inner-city residents using creative techniques with greenhouses, fish tanks and lots of worms. At times the writing is uneven, and several chapters are filled with unexpected digressions into history lessons or other people’s life stories. Yet these asides, including the heart-wrenching struggles of one of Allen’s employees, bring a refreshing energy to the narrative. Many chapters end with a summary of key points or helpful gardening tips, making it a good read for young adults as well. What Allen does with a small plot of land and a lot of determination is nothing short of inspiring. – Kirkus Reviews
Review: ‘The Good Food Revolution’ details a black farmer’s journey
The Los Angeles Times Book Review – June 13, 2012 (Excerpt)
Like his mother and like his daughter, Will Allen meant to escape the life of a farmer, only to learn he never really could — nor did he really want to.
The son of a sharecropper, the 60-year-old Allen has become an icon of the urban agriculture movement. He runs a farm and education center in Milwaukee called Growing Power that produces food and soil for thousands, tries innovations in composting and growing, employs more than 100 people, trains many others and aims to help transform the food system.
In one way, it began in 1993, when Allen opened a farm stand not far from Milwaukee’s largest public housing project. In another, it began decades earlier. Allen tells both stories in his new book, “The Good Food Revolution.”
His book could have been another look at the problems of the industrial food system, the lack of healthful food in many poor communities and ideas to reverse course. And it is that, but it’s also told through the painful but important lens of the African American experience.
Allen gives readers the personal, moving account of a man whose family became part of the last century’s great migration of African Americans out of the South. Of a man who traded a successful — and not too difficult — life in the corporate world for the economic uncertainties and the nonstop labor of a small farmer. [Read the full article...]
THE BLEEDING HILLS A Novel by Wilfried F. Voss
I have fought a good fight,
I have finished my course,
I have kept the faith. - 2 Timothy iv. 7
The Irish War is officially a part of history, but not for Finnean Whelan, an IRA veteran of almost 40 years. British Intelligence has produced evidence that he is the mastermind behind a conspiracy to assassinate the First Minister of Northern Ireland. For Whelan this is not only a mission of revenge, but marks the beginning of a journey into the past and the return to the one true love: Ireland. [More...]
We are the only country that makes guns, including military-style assault weapons, available to anyone who wants to buy them. This is not freedom. It is a tyranny of death and destruction — a tyranny of which the National Rifle Association is proud. The Washington Post
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