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A note from Will on corporations and the Good Food Revolution

Posted on September 8, 2011 with 4 Comments

I appreciate that our friends have shared their honest opinions and feelings with us. I’d like to take this opportunity to share my position on the role that corporations can play in the Good Food Revolution.

The First Lady has brought national attention to our country’s poor health, poor eating habits and poor food quality with her “Let’s Move” program. Now that this issue is in the national spotlight, we are using the momentum she’s created to take the next steps forward in improving overall food quality and quality of life for all people. We, as a society, can no longer refuse to invite big corporations to the table of the Good Food Revolution. Poverty, foodlessness, joblessness: these are problems we all face. They are not only the problems of the poor or of the urban – they are everyone’s problems.

Wal-mart is the world’s largest distributor of food – there is no one better positioned to bring high-quality, locally grown food into urban food deserts and fast-food swamps. We can no longer be so idealistic that we hurt the very people we’re trying to help. Keeping groups that have the money and the power to be a significant part of the solution away from the Good Food Revolution will not serve us. At the same time, by accepting grants like these we retain the power for how corporate money is spent, and the grassroots movement stays grassroots.

Thank you for your continued support of the Good Food Revolution, and please keep your eyes open for more announcements from me and Growing Power. This is an exciting time to change the world.

Will Allen Awarded by James Beard Foundation

Posted on August 10, 2011 with No Comments

The James Beard Foundation Names

Will Allen, CEO of Growing Power,

Recipient of Inaugural Leadership Award

Recognizing 10 Visionaries – including First Lady Michelle Obama – Who Are Creating a More Healthful, Sustainable, and Safe Food World

New York, NY (Aug. 10, 2011) – Recognizing visionaries in the business, government, and education sectors responsible for creating a healthier, safer, and more sustainable food world, the James Beard Foundation has named Will Allen, CEO of Growing Power, a recipient of the inaugural James Beard Foundation Leadership Awards.

Allen, an urban farmer, 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.  In 1993, Allen offered a group of teens the opportunity to help him renovate the Growing Power greenhouses in order to grow food for their community.  What started as a simple partnership to grow a few gardens blossomed into a national and global commitment to sustainable food systems, using the innovative Growing Power Community Food Center as the demonstration model and training grounds to support this initiative.

“One of my core beliefs is that healthy communities cannot exist without healthy food systems,” said Allen. “At our urban farm, everyone is welcome.” From elementary students and farmers to government officials and University professors, Growing Power welcomes anyone who is interested in urban sustainable food systems, renewable energy, the environment, and of course, FOOD, to participate in at least one of the many educational opportunities the organization offers year-round.  In particular, Growing Power provides regular trainings, resource development, and technical support-outreach for limited resource farmers and socially disadvantaged communities.

The Leadership Awards represent a new focal point for the Foundation as the culinary arts organization enters its 25th anniversary year. “Our Foundation is widely known for recognizing the best chefs and restaurateurs in America through our annual James Beard Awards,” said Susan Ungaro, President of the James Beard Foundation. “Our new Leadership Awards shine the spotlight on game-changing pioneers who have inspired positive action to improve our country’s food system.”

Honorees were chosen by an advisory board comprised of a dozen experts from diverse areas of expertise. The Leadership Awards recognize specific outstanding initiatives as well as bodies of work and lifetime achievement. Among the criteria used to select final honorees are excellence of work, innovation in approach, and scale of impact within a community or the nation.

Will Allen and the other nine first-time recipients of the Leadership Awards will be honored at a ceremony and dinner prepared by James Beard Award-winning chefs Michel Nischan and Anne Quatrano during the second annual James Beard Foundation Food Conference.  The invitation-only conference, cohosted by Good Housekeeping, will take place on October 12 and 13 at the Hearst Tower in New York City.

Food is the world’s biggest industry, with restaurants alone contributing more than $550 billion to our national economy. Media messages about food saturate our culture at every turn. The 2011 James Beard Foundation Food Conference, Sustainability on the Table: How Money and Media Influence the Way America Eats, will explore these two themes. Founding support for the JBF Food Conference was provided by GRACE Communications, Edens & Avant, and Sodexo.  The Conference is also made possible with support from American Humane Association, Karp Resources, and UBS. For more information, visit

Tickets to the inaugural Leadership Awards Dinner are available for $1,000, and tables of ten are available for $10,000.  A portion of each ticket or table purchase is tax-deductible as allowed by law.  For event information or to purchase tickets, please contact Bowen & Company at 212.925.0054 or visit

About Growing Power
Growing Power was started in Milwaukee, Wis., in 1993 by Will Allen, a 2008 winner of a MacArthur “Genius Award” who has long worked to produce and deliver healthy food to low-income communities. It is a national nonprofit organization and land trust supporting people from diverse backgrounds, and the environments in which they live, by helping to provide equal access to healthy, high-quality, safe and affordable food for people in all communities.  Growing Power implements this mission by providing hands-on training, on-the-ground demonstration, outreach and technical assistance through the development of Community Food Systems that help people grow, process, market and distribute food in a sustainable manner.

About Will Allen

Will Allen, son of a sharecropper, former professional basketball player, ex-corporate sales leader, and now farmer, has become recognized as among the preeminent thinkers of our time on agriculture and food policy. The founder and CEO of Growing Power Inc., a farm and community food center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Allen is widely considered the leading authority in the expanding field of urban agriculture. At Growing Power and in community food projects across the nation and around the world, Allen promotes the belief that all people, regardless of their economic circumstances, should have access to fresh, safe, affordable and nutritious foods at all times. 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.

About the James Beard Foundation

Founded in 1986, the James Beard Foundation is dedicated to celebrating, nurturing, and preserving America’s diverse culinary heritage and future. A cookbook author and teacher with an encyclopedic knowledge about food, James Beard, who died in 1985, was a champion of American cuisine. He helped educate and mentor generations of professional chefs and food enthusiasts. Today, the Beard Foundation continues in the same spirit by administering a number of diverse programs that include educational initiatives, food industry awards, scholarships to culinary schools, and publications, and by maintaining the historic James Beard House in New York City’s Greenwich Village as a “performance space” for visiting chefs. For more information, please visit Find insights on food at the James Beard Foundation’s blog Delights & Prejudices. Join the James Beard Foundation on Facebook. Follow the James Beard Foundation on Twitter.

CONTACT:             Growing Power Main Office

414.527.1546 ext. 102 /

CONTACT:             Diane Stefani/ Leah Goodman for the James Beard Foundation

212.255.8455 / /

Category: Uncategorized

150 New Green Jobs in Milwaukee with Growing Power

Posted on April 8, 2011 with 4 Comments

Dear Friends,

Growing Power is undertaking the most ambitious challenge in its 18-year history. In a partnership with the City of Milwaukee, we have been tasked to create up to 150 full-time jobs for low-income city residents. The plan is both a test and opportunity. It will allow us a rare chance to demonstrate how our organizational model can help bring sustainable jobs and healthy food to the communities that need it most.

On March 3rd, the City of Milwaukee’s Common Council approved a contribution of $425,000 toward our Plan. Growing Power promised to match this contribution of public funds dollar-for-dollar. Growing Power’s jobs program was the first such plan to receive support from the city’s African-American Male Unemployment Task Force, which seeks to ameliorate the extraordinarily high jobless rate of black men in the city—a figure that stood at 53% in 2009.

Our plan calls forus to hire twenty people within the first two months, and begin a process to recruit and hire 130 more. We will immediately train the new hires to build 150 hoop houses—inexpensive greenhouses—and in time teach them how to grow food intensively with techniques we pioneered at Growing Power. Proceeds from the food grown in those hoop houses will eventually help fund the salaries. In our hiring, we will partner with community agencies to effectively recruit currently unemployed people—and we will work with people who come from a variety of backgrounds, including those often discriminated against for having served time in correctional facilities at some point in their lives. We are optimistic about our new recruits and will maintain high standards and expectations for every employee.

We need everyone’s support to make this program a reality. We have a powerful opportunity to provide dignified work, and to grow what I like to call “the good food revolution.” Employment lowers crime and allows people to stabilize their own lives. Our new hires will feel part of a larger effort to improve the public health of our city. Milwaukee suffers from large disparities in access to healthy food, and has some of the highest rates of obesity, cancer and heart disease in the country. This new jobs program will provide fresh fruits and vegetables in neighborhoods that often lack a single healthy option—and will serve as an example to other cities of how a local food system can be remodeled to create jobs and heal communities.

Please join Mayor Barrett and me for a press conference at Growing Power for the signing of this historic event.


Will Allen

Monday, April 11st, 2011
2:15p – 3:15p
Location: Growing Power
5500 W. Silver Spring Dr.
Milwaukee WI 53218
Phone: 414.527.1546

Thank you for your support.


Category: Uncategorized