Will Allen, leader of urban farming movement talks about importance of sustainable food system
Photos and story by Laurie Krasin
Will Allen, founder and CEO of Growing Power, Inc., of Milwaukee believes a sustainable food system is the only way to solve hunger around the world.
“This is such an important issue, regardless of where we are in the world,” said Allen during his presentation in November 2013 at UW-Fond du Lac. “There is a food crisis that’s going to impact us in the future; impacting our health; impacting in a negative way our community to be able to grow and prosper.”
Allen is recognized as a leader in the expanding field of urban agriculture and spoke as part of UW-Fond du Lac’s Sustainability lecture series. His presentation in the Prairie Theater attracted more than 250 people; community members, faculty, staff and students of all ages.
Growing Power is the last working farm inside the Milwaukee city limits and it is dedicated to being a leader in integrated, diversified urban sustainable agriculture and a center of innovation, learning and inspiration.
Allen says food is supposed to be our medicine and what keeps us healthy. He also believes we need to inspire people, especially our youth, in terms of the way they look at food and introduce them at an early age to good food.
“That’s important...that kids get to taste what an organic tomato tastes like at that pre-school level or even before.”
Beyond the current politics of healthcare, Allen says we need to grow healthy people. “The way we do that is through our local food system. We need to go back to those days in Wisconsin in the ‘30s and ‘40s when the majority of the food we ate was from the state of Wisconsin.”
He adds that 99% of the food in the Milwaukee area comes from over 1,500 miles away. “Our local food system has gone away. But, there are encouraging signs with increasing numbers of community gardens and community sustained agriculture.”
Allen is author of “The Good Food Revolution” and is a recipient of the MacArthur Genius Grant.
Sustainability was the common campus theme during the 2013-14 academic year at UW-Fond du Lac. Students studied the topic in their courses in many different disciplines.
“It was exciting to see students from many different classes - from philosophy to English composition to biology - learning about sustainable agriculture and applying it both in their classrooms and in their lives,” said Paisley Harris, UW-Fond du Lac history professor and Engaging Students in the First Year (ESFY) coordinator. “The lectures, presentations and events enhanced that learning and brought the community into the conversation.”
The events were sponsored by the UW-Fond du Lac Engaging Students in the First Year (ESFY) and Fine Arts and Lecture Committee. Funding was provided by UW-Fond du Lac’s Segregated University Fee Allocation Committee (SUFAC)