Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Growing Power

Name: Growing Power

Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Years: 1993- Present

Founded by: Will Allen

In 1993, Will Allen transformed his farm into a program that offered teens a place to work and provide food for their community. Allen, a former professional basketball player, grew up on a farm in Maryland. In 2008, he was awarded a MacArthur Foundation "Genius Grant" for his work on urban farming, sustainable food production, and with Growing Power. Growing Power is an urban agriculture organization headquartered that runs the last functional farm within the Milwaukee city limits. 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.

Its facilities include seven large greenhouses, a kitchen, indoor and outdoor training gardens, aquaculture system and a food distribution facility. Fish, worms, bees, goats, chickens, turkeys, and ducks are also raised there. Growing power conducts workshops and demonstrations in aquaculture, aquaponics, vermiculture, horticulture, small or large-scale composting, soil reclamation, food distribution, beekeeping, and marketing. It also focuses on food distribution by providing 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. It runs numerous collaborative projects and training projects, including a partnership with the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee to train city youth in gardening.

The farm grows a wide variety of fruit and vegetables, and also farms tilapia and perch through the use of aquaponics. Thousands of people tour the facilities every year. hosts 5,000 visitors and uses 400 tons of the city’s food waste in a single year.

In September 2005, Growing Power, whose relationship with Heifer began in 1997, established a 19,000-square-foot community garden in the center of downtown Chicago, from which all produce will go to shelters and soup kitchens in Chicago. It is a sort of flagship garden for urban agriculture, and for the organization’s goals of using sustainable agriculture to make communities everywhere successful, independent and self-sufficient.


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