Genius Grant for Urban Farmer

Will Allen began Growing Power, an urban farming non-profit, in an ailing Milwaukee neighborhood in 1993. He has since spread the gospel of urban farming throughout the world, and earned a MacArthur Genius grant for his efforts.
September 28, 2008, 9am PDT | Tim Halbur
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"With a staff of about three dozen full-time workers and 2,000 residents pitching in as volunteers, his operation raises about $500,000 worth of fresh, affordable produce, meat and fish for one of what he calls the 'food deserts' of American cities, where the only access to food is corner grocery stories filled with beer, cigarettes and processed foods.

Now, with a $500,000 'genius grant' that the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation awarded him on Tuesday, Mr. Allen is dreaming bigger.

'I'd like to see Growing Power transform itself into a five-story vertical building being totally off the grid with renewable energy, where people can come and learn, so they can go back to their communities around the world and grow healthy food,' Mr. Allen, 59, said in an interview at the farm.

For Mr. Allen, only the second working farmer to win the award, according to the foundation's records, his efforts are not meant simply to keep people well fed. He sees Growing Power as a way to organize people whose voices are rarely heard."

Thanks to Matt Kowalczyk

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Published on Friday, September 26, 2008 in New York Times
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