Photo by Growing Power If you’ve never met Will Allen, Milwaukee’s own urban farmer, you may have missed the way this former professional basketball player towers over nearly everyone in his path. But, it’s not his sheer size that makes Allen remarkable.  It’s the work he does.  Allen has gained regional and national attention […]

 
Photo by Growing Power

If you’ve never met Will Allen, Milwaukee’s own urban farmer, you may have missed the way this former professional basketball player towers over nearly everyone in his path.

But, it’s not his sheer size that makes Allen remarkable.  It’s the work he does.  Allen has gained regional and national attention over the last two decades for his work as the lead trainer and Chief Executive Officer of the Milwaukee-based, non-profit organization, Growing Power, Inc

I’ve written before about the awesome work they’re doing over at Growing Power.  And I doubt this will be the last time I sing the praises of Will Allen and his urban gardening empire.

So, when the James Beard Foundation announced today that it has named Will Allen, CEO of Growing Power, a recipient of the inaugural James Beard Foundation Leadership Awards, I didn’t need to contain any semblance of surprise.

The fact is, Will Allen deserves every ounce of attention he’s getting.  Using methods he has developed over a lifetime, Allen trains community members to become community farmers, assuring them a secure source of good food without regard to political or economic forces.  In 2010 Mr. Allen joined First Lady Michelle Obama as she launched the White House’s “Let’s Move” campaign to address issues affecting American youth and the risk of obesity and Mr. Allen was also recognized as one of TIME magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World.

“One of my core beliefs is that healthy communities cannot exist without healthy food systems,” said Allen. “At our urban farm, everyone is welcome.” 

And Allen speaks the truth. Growing Power welcomes anyone who is interested in urban sustainable food systems, renewable energy, the environment, and of course, food, to participate in a wide variety of year-round educational opportunities. 

Kudos and more kudos to this “gentle giant” – for inspiring a new generation with his work.  For insisting that it takes prolonged effort and collaboration to create sustainable food systems and social justice.  And for believing that everyday citizens, in Milwaukee and elsewhere, can contribute to that work in powerful ways.

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