11/01/09 — Urban farming entrepreneur to give lecture at GHS

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Urban farming entrepreneur to give lecture at GHS

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on November 1, 2009 1:50 AM

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Will Allen

The North Carolina Center for Environmental Farming Systems is sponsoring a lecture by a noted farming innovator, who will speak Wednesday at the Wayne School of Engineering at Goldsboro High School.

Will Allen of Milwaukee, Wis., is a MacArthur "Genius Award" recipient and Fellow and an urban farmer. He is the founder of Growing Power Inc., a national non-profit organization and land trust.

Allen started the business in a small plot of land in Milwaukee, a half-mile from the city's largest housing project. He and scores of community volunteers provide healthful food to more than 10,000 of the city's residents through an on-farm retail store, at farmers' markets and in schools and restaurants.

The New York Times Magazine has called Allen "the Pied Piper" of urban agriculture.

With the development of the Washington Park Urban Farm in Goldsboro and a thriving Wayne Local Foods Initiative, Allen's visit takes on special meaning, say officials with the center.

He will speak at GHS from 10-11:30 a.m.

While in Goldsboro, Allen will meet with local government officials and leaders of the Wayne Food Initiative in an effort to highlight the opportunities that urban agriculture can bring to Wayne.

He will speak later in the day (7 p.m.) at the McKimmon Center at North Carolina State University.

Allen's holistic farming model incorporates both cultivating foodstuffs and designing food distribution networks in an urban setting. Through a novel synthesis of a variety of low-cost farming technologies, including the use of raised beds, aquaculture, vermiculture and greenhouses heated by compost -- Growing Power produces large amounts of food the year-round at its two-acre site inside the Milwaukee city limits.

Over the last decade, Allen has expanded Growing Power's initiatives through partnerships with local organizations and activities, such as the Farm-city Market Basket program, which provides a weekly basket of fresh produce grown by members of the Rainbow Farmer's Cooperative to low-income residents at a reduced costs.

The internships and workshops sponsored by Growing Power enable teenagers and young adults to produce healthy food for their families while providing hands-on training to those interested in establishing similar farming initiatives in other cities and towns.

Allen started in 1995 while helping neighborhood children with a gardening project. Guiding his work is the recognition that the unhealthy diets of many low-income people can leads to physical problems such as obesity and diabetes, largely attributable to limited access to safe and affordable fresh fruits and vegetables.