January 18, 2010 | Author: Charles Wilson | 1 Comment
Seventy people gathered at Growing Power’s headquarters in Milwaukee this past weekend, offering proof that good things can grow even in the heart of winter.
The first wave to arrive on a snowy Friday morning was the 2010 class for Growing Power’s Commercial Urban Agriculture Training Program, comprised of 27 people who are aiming to build an economically viable and sustainable urban farming enterprise. On Saturday and Sunday, they were joined by those attending Growing Power’s “From the Ground Up” hands-on workshops. Run by Will Allen and his staff, these sessions included lessons on how to compost, seed and harvest, build an aquaculture system, plan an urban agriculture project, or start a beehive.
Allen is pleased with the diversity of this year’s Commercial Urban Agriculture class. The students will return to Milwaukee for training and guidance one weekend a month over the next four months. The incoming group includes a young man named Nat Turner who started a farmer’s market and urban farm in the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. He spoke of the difficulty of finding healthy food in his neighborhood. “They don’t sell cheese at my grocery store,” Turner said. “They sell imitation pasteurized cheese food.”
A physician from Washington, D.C., Dr. Abdul Alim Muhammad, felt that growing and distributing fresh food in cities is a way to combat the health crises that his profession typically deals with only on the back end—rather than on the prevention side. “When you get right down to it,” Muhammad said when introducing himself to his classmates, “everything else that we do in life can be no better—and the quality of our life can be no better—than the food we eat.”
To those just getting started in growing food, Allen emphasized throughout the weekend the necessity of both patience and action. He argued that the infrastructure of a project should grow only at the pace that one’s knowledge grows, but that there is no excuse for doing nothing.