Will Allen at Growing Power wins MacArthur “Genius” Grant

Urban agriculturist Will Allen recognized a need for the delivery of healthy foods to underserved, urban populations in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where he lives. In 1993, he started working with neighborhood children on a gardening project. It was there that he planted the seeds for the farming methods and educational programs that would become the non-profit, Growing Power, that he now runs, and for which he is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship this year.

Allen’s organization focuses on low-income urban populations, who are most at risk for diabetes and obesity largely because they lack access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Growing Power’s farm sits on two acres within Milwaukee’s city limits. It was important to bring the farm itself into the urban setting, to serve as a tool for children and adults, re-building the community and teaching individuals new ideas about food. This includes connecting people to Community Supported Agriculture programs, and setting up internships and workshops on the farm to provide hands-on training for those interested in establishing similar farming initiatives elsewhere.

It’s catching on, too. In 2002, Growing Power started initiative in Chicago, and are now developing national training centers in cities across the country.

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Paula Crossfield is a founder and the Editor-at-large of Civil Eats. She is also a co-founder of the Food & Environment Reporting Network. Her reporting has been featured in The Nation, Gastronomica, Index Magazine, The New York Times and more, and she has been a contributing producer at The Leonard Lopate Show on New York Public Radio. An avid cook and gardener, she currently lives in Oakland. Read more >

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