Today’s inspirational steward spotlight is being shined on Will Allen creator, executive officer and farmer-in-chief of Growing Power of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Many of you may have already heard of this inspirational steward, but I’m guessing a greater number of you have not!
"If people can grow safe, healthy, affordable food, if they have access to land and clean water, this is transformative on every level in a community. I believe we cannot have healthy communities without a healthy food system." ~Will Allen
Will Allen has been energetically working in the greater Milwaukee Area to help inspire, teach, reach out to inner city youth - as well as all other interested -with a new message on urban agriculture. Growing Power is a national nonprofit organization and land trust supporting people from diverse backgrounds, and the environments in which they live by helping to provide equal access to healthy, high-quality, safe, and affordable food for people in all communities. This mission is implemented by providing hands-on training, on-the-ground demonstration, outreach, and technical assistance through the development of Community Food Systems that help people grow, process, market, and distribute food in a sustainable manner.
Growing Powers Vision:
Inspiring communities to build sustainable food systems that are equitable and ecologically sound, creating a just world, one food-secure community at a time.
Growing Powers Goal:
Grow food, grow minds and grow community.
This seemingly simple goal has come with fantastic and rebounding effects. Allen’s Growing Power movement has gone beyond Milwaukee and the inner city, expanding to a number of parties around the globe interested in learning productive garden techniques in tight spaces – the only kind offered in most highly urbanized areas.
Will Allen teaches a shift in perspective; grow UP, not out! The foundation of his urban agriculture success starts with the soil. Without healthy soil there aren’t enough nutrients to support healthy, productive plants. To make the healthy soil transformation Allen and his team grow their own compost and vermicompost (compost filled with worms). Worms and more important the work they do and waste left behind are one of the most important and key tools to getting this abundantly healthy soil. In fact about 10 million tons of compost and vermicompost is created in a single year at Growing Power.
Aquaponic and aquaculture system is the structural base for the vertical crop beds. Aquaculture is the symbiotic cultivation of plants and aquatic animals in a re-circulating system. Aquaponics is the method of growing crops and fish together in a re-circulating system. Growing Power uses the aquaponics model to grow crops vertically on raised beds. Tilapia and Yellow Perch thrive in the pond base, their water (filled with the highly nutritious fish waste) is pumped into the top crop bed where it is absorbed by the plants (of a variety of veggies, grasses and herbs), gravity allows it to be filtered down though successive beds and the final filtered water is dripped back into the pond.
To grow sustainably no synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, or any other synthetic chemicals are used on any crops. Weeds are picked by hand, beneficial insects are used to control pests, and foliar compost tea is also used to control pests and bacterial. Additionally all of the seeds are purchased though reputable seed companies such as Johnny’s Seeds and Seed Savers to help ensure a chemical and GMO free seed.
Beyond the chosen sustainable farming practices Will Allen and his growing team are leaders in rethinking sustainability by fostering a reconnection to our natural world, our need to have symbiotic relationships with other species, reconnection to the natural growing season and cycle of the seasons. All of which is an important connection for all generations to make. It is an important reminder of how to care for our natural world and how to best live within it through increase sustainable living patterns.
The next vision, a vertical farm in the city!
This innovative conceptual design developed by Will Allen, the Growing Power Team and The Kubala Washatko Architects, Inc. is a five stories high south-facing greenhouse. This will allow the production of plants, vegetables, and herbs year-round. As well as serve as an educational classroom, conference spaces, demonstration kitchen, food processing and storage, freezers, and loading docks all in an effort to further support Growing Power’s expanding mission as a local and national resource for learning about sustainable urban food production.
Exciting stuff to say the least! Way to go Will and your entire Growing Power team!
To learn more and become inspired please check out the website, http://www.growingpower.org/index.htm