Greening the Food Desert

good food revolutiongrowing power

Will Allen’s parents were sharecroppers from South Carolina, but their son never dreamed of being a farmer — he had other plans for his life. After years on the hardwood floors of professional basketball, Will Allen built a successful career as an executive at Procter & Gamble.

But here’s the unexpected turn. Cashing in his retirement fund, Will bought a two-acre plot of land, a half mile from Milwaukee’s largest public housing project — set in the middle of a food desert with only convenience stores and fast-food restaurants to serve local residents. In the face of tremendous obstacles, that two-acre plot grew into Growing Power, the nation’s preeminent urban farm — a food and education center that now produces enough vegetables and fish to feed thousands. And along the way, jobs have been created, public health has improved, and a community in need has come together. Today, Growing Power helps develop community food systems across the country.

We’re excited to add Will Allen’s new book to our growing collection of books on the urban food movement. The Good Food Revolution: Growing Healthy Food, People, and Communities is an inspiring place to begin!

In 2008, Will Allen was awarded the MacArthur Foundation’s “Genius Grant” for his work on urban farming and sustainable food production:

“Will Allen’s remarkable story, told with eloquence and compassion, conveys the universal value of social justice and real food.” — Alice Waters

greenhouse tour

Growing Power has become an educational tool for the urban farm movement, especially focused on teaching the next generation of farmers & health-minded consumers.

Here’s a few more recent books from the Land Library’s Urban Homestead shelves!

urban farmschicken gardensaquaponic
Urban Farms, Sarah Rich’s just-arrived book that provides in-depth profiles of 16 innovative urban farms, including Will Allen’s Growing Power Community Food Center; Free-Range Chicken Gardens: How to Create a Beautiful, Chicken-Friendly Yard by Jessi Bloom (good gardens and free-range chickens can co-exist and thrive!); Aquaponic Gardening: A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Vegetables and Fish Together by Sylvia Bernstein, the subject of a recent Rocky Mountain Land Series program, and a technique central to Will Allen’s urban farm.


“Will Allen is a hero and an inspiration to urban farmers everywhere. Now, with The Good Food Revolution, we learn how Allen rediscovered the power of agriculture, and in doing so transformed a city, its community, and eventually the world….Told with grace and utter honesty, I found myself cheering for Allen and his organization, Growing Power.” — Novella Carpenter, author of Farm City, and The Essential Urban Farmer.

For much more on Will Allen and Growing Power, be sure to visit their website!

And for more inspiring examples of innovative farms and farmers, check out one of the Land Library’s favorite past posts:

–Work, Enjoy, Together Now


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