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GrowingPower: HomePage

Official Growing Power Web Site

This is a new site filled with inspiring images and information.

London Farmers come to town

These photos are from a book called “Edible Cities” which 5 London Farmers wrote after a Macy State Department Tour of Growing Power Projects in Milwaukee, Chicago, and London a year after Will’s London lecture. Here’s a link to the trailblazing book:
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Will Allen Seeks Housing for Virgin Island Workshop Attendees August 16 to 21

Will Allen is hoping we can come up with housing only for 12 Growing Power workshop participants
From the Virgin Islands, sponsored by Fort Valley State, including

August 16 to 21

Young adults and/or students eager to learn Growing Power’s avant guard urban agriculture methodologies.

Will and his Growing Power team will provide a van for transportation
And 3 meals a day for these guests to our fair city.

Please let me know how many guests you might offer housing to
And if you have a gender preference.


James J. Godsil, Board Member
Growing Power

P.S. Come to Sweet Water Organics this Wednesday from 5 to 7 p.m. and learn about the Sweet Water Guild School representing the marriage of urban artists, artisans, and agrarians, learned and novice.

Great Recognition for a Great Farmer!

In case you missed it, Will Allen was named one of Fast Company’s 100 most creative people in business - how awesome to see this visionary farmer gain mainstream recognition as both a civic leader and successful entrepreneur. And even cooler that a former pro-basketball player has ultimately chosen farming as his calling!

Keeping fingers crossed that inspirational people like Will Allen will continue to bridge the gap between farming and the rest of the world…

Hope this finds everyone well!

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‘Fresh’ celebrates Growing Power on film

New movie gets special screening here at Discovery World

Milwaukee – May 21, 2009 – A documentary film about people who are reinventing America’s food system by focusing on sustainable practices will get advance screenings in Washington, New York and Boston, and also here in Milwaukee, the home base of one of the movie’s featured characters: Will Allen of Growing Power.

“Fresh,” made by documentary filmmaker Ana Joanes, will preview for a local audience at 6 p.m. June 4 at Discovery World in Pier Wisconsin, and will be followed by a panel discussion including Joanes, Allen and others. Tickets are $20, and seating is limited to 120 viewers. Additional donations are welcome. Tickets may be purchased online at This link can also be located by visiting On our home page, click the “Events” tab and scroll to June 4 to find it.

Allen, the founder and CEO of Growing Power, is highlighted in the film for his innovative approach to teaching individuals and communities where their food comes from, how it can be grown in healthful and sustainable ways, and how to grow it themselves.

“What’s great about this film is that it tells a lot of stories that many people otherwise might not hear,” Allen said. “It’s about the farmers who are changing the ways they grow food, and about food marketers like David Ball who has changed the way he buys and sells it, and the incredible positive effect they are having on the communities around them.”

Allen will be attending all four preliminary screenings of the film and participating in panel discussions following each, including Milwaukee’s. He will travel to Washington for the first showing on May 26 at The Avalon theatre; New York on May 27 at the Cantor Film Center; and Boston on May 28 at Harvard University.

Joel Brennan, president and CEO of Discovery World, offered the museum as a site for the Milwaukee film premiere as part of an established and growing relationship with Allen and Growing Power. With a focus on freshwater sciences and our interactions with the Great Lakes, Discovery World includes as a permanent exhibit a model of a Growing Power six-part aquaponics system for growing both fish and vegetables in a single, closed-loop cycle, as well as a vermicomposting bin, in which worms break down vegetable waste into a rich organic fertilizer.

“We strive to show people that nature can show us how to eat better, how to grow better, how to live better,” Allen said. “If they can see it in action in a popular museum and in a popular movie, maybe they will be more inclined to come out and see it in action where it’s really happening – in cities and on farms all across the country.”

To learn more about “Fresh,”

Visit Growing Power at


Sarah Christman,
Growing Power

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June 13 & 14 Will Allen Growing Power Milwaukee “From the Ground Up Workshop”

We have had some pretty good luck inspiring Growing Power’s Milwaukee supporters
To offer free lodging for visitors to “From the Ground Up Workshops.”

To register for this first ever Summer From the Ground Up Workshop go to…!.htm

If you want me to seek resident hosts for you, send an e-mail to


James J. Godsil, Board Member
Partner, Sweet Water Organics

Will Allen and Growing Power in the national spotlight again

By Karen Herzog of the Journal Sentinel
May. 6, 2009

A $400,000 grant announced Wednesday by one of the nation’s largest charitable organizations will help a Milwaukee urban farm promote workforce development through the green movement, including jobs in intensive agriculture, renewable energy and environmental education.

Growing Power, led by founder and CEO Will Allen, plans to expand its efforts in Milwaukee and Chicago, where it has a projects office. It also will extend outreach operations to partners in Detroit through the grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, aimed at training workers in vulnerable urban populations. The project has been dubbed “Growing Capacity for the Green Economy.”

Allen also won a national award Wednesday that puts him in the company of Michael Pollan, bestselling author of “Omnivore’s Dilemma.”

The Natural Resources Defense Council announced Wednesday that Allen is one of three winners of its first-ever Growing Green Awards, which recognize individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary contributions to sustainable food. Pollan is chair of the award selection panel. The NRDC received nearly 140 nominations in three categories: Food producer, Business Leader and Thought Leader.

Allen won in the Food Producer category. He was one of three finalists in that category. The awards are to be formally announced Saturday at a benefit in San Francisco.

Growing Power has built or fostered a number of community food systems across the country, and is in the process of creating several national and regional training centers.

Allen said he hopes the “Growing Capacity for the Green Economy” project funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation will help show that there’s a place in the green economy for people with few skills or little education, starting out.

“What we call the green sector of the economy is the only sector that is growing right now, not shrinking,” Allen said. “But few of those green jobs are going to the people and places that need them most.”

Allen said that green industry jobs are generally considered high-tech, high-skilled positions, “but that doesn’t have to be the case.”

Creating a community food system involves many skills and disciplines besides tending food crops, he said. Workers learn about operating and maintaining equipment and energy systems, food processing, packaging, distribution, marketing, and accounting, among other things.

Allen’s profile has grown steadily since he won a $500,000 “genius” grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation last year. He is a frequent guest speaker at symposiums and events around the country.
Click here for the original story and comments!
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A Good Food Manifesto for America

By Will Allen
Founder and Chief Executive Officer

I am a farmer. While I find that this has come to mean many other things to other people – that I have become also a trainer and teacher, and to some a sort of food philosopher – I do like nothing better than to get my hands into good rich soil and sow the seeds of hope.

So, spring always enlivens me and gives me the energy to make haste, to feel confidence, to take full advantage of another all-too-short Wisconsin summer.

This spring, however, much more so than in past springs, I feel my hope and confidence mixed with a sense of greater urgency. This spring, I know that my work will be all the more important, for the simple but profound reason that more people are hungry.

For years I have argued that our food system is broken, and I have tried to teach what I believe must be done to fix it. This year, and last, we have begun seeing the unfortunate results of systemic breakdown. We have seen it in higher prices for those who can less afford to pay, in lines at local food pantries, churches and missions, and in the anxious eyes of people who have suddenly become unemployed. We have seen it, too, in nationwide outbreaks of food-borne illness in products as unlikely as spinach and peanuts.

Severe economic recession certainly has not helped matters, but the current economy is not alone to blame. This situation has been spinning toward this day for decades. 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.

Over the past century, we allowed our agriculture to become more and more industrialized, more and more reliant on unsustainable practices, and much more distant from the source to the consumer. We have allowed corn and soybeans, grown on the finest farmland in the world, to become industrial commodities rather than foodstuffs. We have encouraged a system by which most of the green vegetables we eat come from a few hundred square miles of irrigated semi-desert in California.

When fuel prices skyrocket, as they did last year, things go awry. When a bubble like ethanol builds and then bursts, things go haywire. When drought strikes that valley in California, as is happening right now, things start to topple. And when the whole economy shatters, the security of a nation’s food supply teeters on the brink of failure.

To many people, this might sound a bit hysterical. There is still food in the suburban supermarket aisles, yes. The shelves are not empty; there are no bread lines. We haven’t read of any number of Americans actually starving to death.

No, and were any of those things to happen, you can rest assured that there would be swift and vigorous action. What is happening is that many vulnerable people, especially in the large cities where most of us live, in vast urban tracts where there are in fact no supermarkets, are being forced to buy cheaper and lower-quality foods, to forgo fresh fruits and vegetables, or are relying on food programs – including our children’s school food programs – that by necessity are obliged to distribute any kind of food they can afford, good for you or not. And this is coming to haunt us in health care and social costs. No, we are not suddenly starving to death; we are slowly but surely malnourishing ourselves to death. And this fate is falling ever more heavily on those who were already stressed: the poor. Yet there is little action.

Many astute and well-informed people beside myself, most notably Michael Pollan, in a highly persuasive treatise last fall in the New York Times, have issued these same warnings and laid out the case for reform of our national food policy. I need not go on repeating what Pollan and others have already said so well, and I do not wish merely to add my voice to a chorus.

I am writing to demand action.

It is time and past time for this nation, this government, to react to the dangers inherent in its flawed farm and food policies and to reverse course from subsidizing wealth to subsidizing health.

We have to stop paying the largest farm subsidies to large growers of unsustainable and inedible crops like cotton. We have to stop paying huge subsidies to Big Corn, Big Soy and Big Chem to use prime farmland to grow fuel, plastics and fructose. We have to stop using federal and state agencies and institutions as taxpayer-funded research arms for the very practices that got us into this mess.

We have to start subsidizing health and well-being by rewarding sustainable practices in agriculture and assuring a safe, adequate and wholesome food supply to all our citizens. And we need to start this reform process now, as part of the national stimulus toward economic recovery.

In my organization, Growing Power Inc. of Milwaukee, we have always before tried to be as self-sustaining as possible and to rely on the market for our success. Typically, I would not want to lean on government support, because part of the lesson we teach is to be self-reliant.

But these are not typical times, as we are now all too well aware.

As soon as it became clear that Congress would pass the National Recovery Act, I and members of my staff brainstormed ideas for a meaningful stimulus package aimed at creating green jobs, shoring up the security of our urban food systems, and promoting sound food policies of national scope. The outcome needed to be both “shovel-ready” for immediate impact and sustainable for future growth.

We produced a proposal for the creation of a public-private enabling institution called the Centers for Urban Agriculture. It would incorporate a national training and outreach center, a large working urban farmstead, a research and development center, a policy institute, and a state-of-the-future urban agriculture demonstration center into which all of these elements would be combined in a functioning community food system scaled to the needs of a large city.

We proposed that this working institution – not a “think tank” but a “do tank” – be based in Milwaukee, where Growing Power has already created an operating model on just two acres. But ultimately, satellite centers would become established in urban areas across the nation. Each would be the hub of a local or regional farm-to-market community food system that would provide sustainable jobs, job training, food production and food distribution to those most in need of nutritional support and security.

This proposal was forwarded in February to our highest officials at the city, state and federal level, and it was greeted with considerable approval. Unfortunately, however, it soon became clear that the way Congress had structured the stimulus package, with funds earmarked for only particular sectors of the economy, chiefly infrastructure, afforded neither our Congressional representatives nor our local leaders with the discretion to direct any significant funds to this innovative plan. It simply had not occurred to anyone that immediate and lasting job creation was plausible in a field such as community-based agriculture.

I am asking Congress today to rectify that oversight, whether by modifying the current guidelines of the Recovery Act or by designating new and dedicated funds to the development of community food systems through the creation of this national Centers for Urban Agriculture.

Our proposal budgeted the initial creation of this CUA at a minimum of $63 million over two years – a droplet compared to the billions being invested in other programs both in the stimulus plan and from year-to-year in the federal budget.

Consider that the government will fund the Centers for Disease Control at about $8.8 billion this year, and that is above the hundreds of millions more in research grants to other bio-medical institutions, public and private. This is money well spent for important work to ensure Americans the best knowledge in protecting health by fighting disease; but surely by now we ought to recognize that the best offense against many diseases is the defense provided by a healthy and adequate diet. Yet barely a pittance of CDC money goes for any kind of preventive care research.

In 2008, the Department of Homeland Security approved spending $450 million for a new National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility at Kansas State University, in addition to the existing Biosecurity Research Institute already there. Again, money well spent to protect our food supply from the potential of a terrorist attack. But note that these hundreds of millions are being spent to protect us from a threat that may never materialize, while we seem to trivialize the very real and material threat that is upon us right now: the threat of malnourishment and undernourishment of very significant number of our citizens.

Government programs under the overwhelmed and overburdened departments of Agriculture and of Health and Human Services do their best to serve their many masters, but in the end, government farm and food policies are most often at odds between the needs of the young, the old, the sick and the poor versus the wants of the super-industry that agriculture has become.

By and large, the government’s funding of nutritional health comes down to spending millions on studies to tell us what we ought to eat without in any way guaranteeing that many people will be able to find or afford the foods they recommend. For instance, food stamps ensure only that poor people can buy food; they cannot ensure that, in the food deserts that America’s inner cities have become, there will be any good food to buy.

We need a national nutrition plan that is not just another entitlement, that is not a matter of shipping surplus calories to schools, senior centers, and veterans’ homes. We need a plan that encourages a return to the best practices of both farming and marketing, that rewards the grower who protects the environment and his customers by nourishing his soil with compost instead of chemicals and who ships his goods the shortest distance, not the longest.

If the main purpose of government is to provide for the common security of its citizens, surely ensuring the security of their food system must be among its paramount duties. And if among our rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, we are denied all those rights if our cities become prisons of poverty and malnutrition.

As an African-American farmer, I am calling on the first African-American president of the United States to lead us quickly away from this deepening crisis. Demand, President Obama, that Congress and your own Administration begin without delay the process of reforming our farm and food policies. Start now by correcting the omission in your economic stimulus and recovery act that prevented significant spending on creating new and sustainable jobs for the poor in our urban centers as well as rural farm communities.

It will be an irony, certainly, but a sweet one, if millions of African-Americans whose grandparents left the farms of the South for the factories of the North, only to see those factories close, should now find fulfillment in learning once again to live close to the soil and to the food it gives to all of us.

I would hope that we can move along a continuum to make sure that all of citizens have access to the same fresh, safe, affordable good food regardless of their cultural, social or economic situation.
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The Natural Resources Defense Council Recognizes Will Allen’s Work

“Growing Power founder up for national award”
By Karen Herzog of the Journal Sentinel

Apr. 21, 2009 | If there was any doubt about Will Allen’s rock star status in the urban agriculture movement, his latest award nomination puts him in the company of Michael Pollan, bestselling author of “Omnivore’s Dilemma.”

The Natural Resources Defense Council announced Tuesday that Allen is one of three food producer finalists for the first-ever Growing Green Awards. The awards recognize individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary contributions to sustainable food in advancing farming practices, climate and water stewardship, farmland preservation and social responsibility from farm to fork.

Allen, founder of the Milwaukee urban farm Growing Power, is the only Wisconsin finalist. The council received nearly 140 nominations from growers, entrepreneurs and business leaders across the country. Nine finalists were selected in the categories of Food Producer, Business Leader, and Thought Leader.

Pollan is chair of the award selection panel.

Winners will be announced in San Francisco at the “Food for Thought” benefit May 9, at which time Pollan will be honored for his contributions to the field of sustainable food
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Discovery World Museum in Milwaukee and Chicago’s Museum of Science Introduce Will Allen’s Growing Power Urban Agriculture Breakthroughs

Museums grab onto Growing Power

Milwaukee – Jan. 30, 2009 – Worms, fish and growing greens: Two major Midwest museums have latched on to these living things with the installation of exhibits created by Growing Power Inc. of Milwaukee to demonstrate its concepts of intensive urban agriculture.

Discovery World Museum in Milwaukee and Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry added the features to support larger exhibitions on agriculture and water use. The Chicago museum includes a Growing Power “vermicomposting” system in an exhibition on African-Americans’ contributions to the green revolution. Vermicomposting uses worms – lots of worms – to rapidly and efficiently break down vegetable matter into a very fertile soil for growing more vegetables. The exhibit will remain in place throughout February in celebration of Black History Month.

Discovery World, at the Pier Wisconsin Center on Milwaukee’s lakefront, has added a permanent exhibit that features both vermicomposting and “aquaponics.” This combines aquaculture – farming fish – with hydroponics – growing plants in nutrient-enriched water. In this closed-loop nutrition system, fish expel nitrogen-rich ammonia through their waste, which is broken down into useful nitrates by bacteria in a filter bed. The water then flows through the roots of three vertical layers of edible plants – chard, chrysanthemum greens and watercress – where the nitrates are consumed from the water before it is returned, clean and healthy, to the fish tank.

“We need to learn to grow better food closer to where people live,” said Growing Power founder and CEO Will Allen. “This system shows how we can accomplish that in a very small area, using intensive practices and vertical space to grow both healthy vegetables and a source of protein.”

Growing Power is a national non-profit organization and land trust that operates an urban farmstead and community food center at 5500 W. Silver Spring Drive. It is also at the center of a local farm-to-market food network that includes more than 300 farmers and producers.

Jim Price
Growing Power Inc.
Phone: (414) 531–3395
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Great Promise of Will Allen as White House Master Farmer

It would be a great thing for Milwaukee and our nation
Were Will Allen to work with the Obama family
To help them and their friends and associates
Set up a veggie garden and aquaculture system
For fish farming at the White House.

Will’s intensive small space veggie gardens
And aquaculture systems could be replicated
At just about any one’s house.

That would be the power and the glory of
Will Allen’s choice as White House Farmer…
Making good healthy food available to all of God’s children.

Hundreds of pages and pictures
Tracking the emergence of MacArthur genius and
Possibly White House Farmer, Will Allen.

Vote for Milwaukee’s Will Allen!

Hey, Everybody!

The Obama White House is considering transforming part of the White House Lawns into an organic farm to raise fruits and vegetable to be used, not only in White House Meals but also to donate to local food pantries. Several farmers across the country have been nominated, including former professional basketball player - now urban farmer, Will Allen of Growing Power. Governor Doyle recently nominated him for the honor. See:

Will operates a working farm within the Milwaukee city limits. He offers thousands of tours a year of Growing Power, a Milwaukee-based organization focused on sustainable urban agriculture. Growing power conducts workshops and demonstrations in aquaculture, aquaponics, vermiculture, horticulture, small or large-scale composting, soil reclamation, food distribution, beekeeping, and marketing. Will turns compost into energy to heat his green houses in the winter and has been integral in educating inner-city dwellers about the importance of organic farming and energy efficiency.

Please take a few minutes to cast your vote for Will, or for your favorite farmer, at

For more information about the wonderful things that Will Allen’s Growing Power is doing both here in Milwaukee, Chicago, and across the nation, go to Three little videos introduce you to one of Will’s urban farms on 5500 W. Silver Spring Drive here in Milwaukee. Will himself is in the third video.

Thanks for taking the time! And do spread the word!

Sister Josephe Marie

State farmers among top vote-getters for White House farmer

By Karen Herzog of the Journal Sentinel

Posted: Jan. 30, 2009 1:05 p.m.

Two Wisconsin vegetable growers at the moment are among the top three vote-getters in a national Internet campaign for White House farmer, and a Madison farmer has just taken the lead as of 12:40 p.m.

Voting – and campaigning - appears to be steady at as the midnight Saturday voting deadline approaches. Wisconsin leads the nation with 17 farmer nominees. Washington state follows with 15 nominees.

Claire Strader, farm manager for Troy Community Farms on Madison’s north side, took the lead with 20% of the vote (7,225 votes as of 12:40 p.m.) and Will Allen, CEO and founder of Growing Power, an urban Milwaukee farm, is in third place with 9% of the vote (3,141 votes as of 12:40 p.m.). Strader is neck-and-neck with Carrie Anne Little, of Tacoma, Wash. Strader is actively campaigning; several influential friends of Growing Power are campaigning on Allen’s behalf via social networking and e-mail lists.

The names of the top three vote-getters are to be forwarded to President Barack Obama, who has not created a White House farmer position, nor agreed to plant a vegetable garden on the lawn of the White House. The campaign for the garden is being shepherded by high profile foodies such as Alice Waters and Michael Pollan.

The White House Farmer campaign was started by a central Illinois farm family, and inspired by a New York Times column by Pollan.

Pollan suggested five prime south-facing acres of the White House lawn be transformed into an organic fruit and vegetable garden, with produce to be used by the White House chef and given to food banks. Another Web site,, promotes the White House garden and symbolically offers chunks of White House lawn to pay for the garden.

The White House has a rooftop vegetable garden and an herb garden, but the lawn garden would be much higher profile if it were to be built.

Allen has said he would not want the White House farmer job, if it were to be created. But he said he would be interested in designing and installing the garden, and training those who would tend it. Allen has also said it should be built and supported with donations, not taxpayer dollars.
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Youtube Film Clips of Will Allen and His Growing Power Team

Growing Power Aquaculture

Growing Power Salad Mix

Growing Soil With the Help of Worms

Elaine Ingham Knows a Lot About Worms and Soil
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pre-harvest Growing Power site

Bios of Growing Power Team

Growing Power Archives

Closed Files

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