Former standout high school and college athlete (who had a brief professional basketball career), Will Allen runs a 2 acre inner city farm in Milwaukee next to one of the nations largest low-income housing projects. At 6′ 7″, and over 200lbs, Will stands tall in his signature sleeveless hoodie and inspires local citizens and others around the globe to join his Good Food Revolution. Much has been written about his history – his long journey to food hero stardom. But it’s worth repeating that Will’s rise to notoriety began when he merged his small, experimental farming operation, Farm City Link, with a teen organization, called Growing Power. A joint effort brought teens who needed work, together with an experienced farmer who had a small plot of land ready to be used for all types of farming practices. Will created an opportunity for inner city youth to grow and sell affordable and healthy food to their underserved community. He trains them in aquaponics, horticulture, vermiculture, composting, beekeeping and other farm-related jobs. He’s a motivator and a mentor who leads by example.
“I work 18 hours a day, seven days a week. One day I might just drop dead in the worm bin, but I’ll be happy.”
This is a man who loves his work. Who loves spreading the word about good food. Lately he’s been spreading his Good Food message on national and international levels and people are taking notice. They’re seeing the value in teaching urban agriculture and making healthy foods accessible to low-income populations. In 2005 he received a Ford Foundation leadership grant. In 2008, he received a Genius Fellowship from the MacArthur Foundation valued at $500,000. And just last year he received a $400,000 grant from the Kellogg Foundation to create urban agriculture jobs in Milwaukee, Chicago and Detroit. He also took home the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Growing Green Award.
Yeah, he’s on fire. Growing Power now has 10 farms on over a 100-acres in the city of Milwaukee. Watch below as Will Power explains how his organization supports the Good Food Revolution.
And like any good food hero he believes in the power of the people and places a great deal of responsibility in their hands when it comes to getting out of our current processed food epidemic.
“And while many of my acquaintances tend to point the finger at the big agro-chemical conglomerates as villains, the fault really is with all of us who casually, willingly, even happily surrendered our rights to safe, wholesome, affordable and plentiful food in exchange for over-processed and pre-packaged convenience.”
So contrary to popular belief, it’s not the hero’s responsibility to save us. A hero is born to show us what’s possible. To inspire and act as a catalyst for all things good…including good food.