Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Urban Farmer Will Allen Receives MacArthur 'Genius' Award

Will Allen, above, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin has been named one of this year's recipients of the prestigious "genius" grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The grant recognizes Allen's work bringing affordable fresh produce and quality grass-fed meats to the urban poor and educating communities about sustainable farming. The Chicago-based MacArthur Foundation awarded Allen $500,000 over the next five yeara to use however he wishes. Allen, 59, also received $100,000 in 2005 from the Ford Foundation on behalf of urban farming work. Allen is a former professional basketball player in the ABA and he cofounded Growing Power in 1993 in Milwaukee to help teach inner-city kids about the origins of their food.

Growing Power works to ensure that low-income neighborhoods have access to fresh fruits and vegetables via farmers' markets and other programs. The group runs a two-acre urban farm in Milwaukee and a 40-acre plot in Merton, Wisconsin that teachs sustainable, low-cost farming techniques to people of all ages and backgrounds. Growing Power has also spread to Chicago, where Allen's daughter Erika runs a program that includes a community garden, education programs for would-be farmers and gardeners, and an organic farm in Grant Park. [Sources: Grist, Chicago Sun-Times, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, The MacArthur Foundation]

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