Will Allen – Planting the Seeds of the Future

A humanitarian can be described as a person who seeks to promote human welfare. When thinking of people who fit this definition maybe Mother Teresa or Gandhi come to mind because of their legends. Some people might argue that a profession so simple as a farmer would not meet the humanitarian definition. Will Allen, however, is someone who can change the perspectives of everyone, and has positively affected the well being of many through urban agriculture.

Will Allen grew up on a small vegetable farm with his family in Maryland, and had a promising basketball career due to his 6’ 7” body frame. Fifteen years ago he made a drastic career change however, and became a farmer in a low-income area of Milwaukee, creating a place called Growing Power. The farm is located in an area that has little access to high quality and varieties of food, because of the poverty and unstable neighborhoods. The mission of Growing Power is a national 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. The farm strives to build sustainable food systems that create a just world, one community at a time.

Ana Joanes, the producer of a recent agriculture film called Fresh says, “Will Allen is now one of the most influential leaders of the food security & urban farming movement. This man and his organization go beyond growing food. They provide a platform for people to share knowledge and form relationships in order to develop alternatives to the industrial food system.” A perfect area to form these relationships in is an urban area, like Milwaukee, which has diversity all the way down to poverty. Will Allen has been extremely influential indeed, and has been named to several awards:

At Growing Power there is a Market Basket Program where families can pick of baskets full of food and produce from the farm. By turning 3,000 square feet into 4,500 square feet through vertical growing, more of the necessary food can be distributed through the community. Also, more people can be educated and get a job, or volunteer to learn Will Allen’s farming secrets. They do this by attending the farm, which is the largest year round food producer in the Midwest. This is one of the many strengths of Growing Power, the profound ability to be educated.

By producing one million pounds of food and ten thousand fish on only three acres, Will Allen has changed the lives of others. He has made delicious, organic food more accessible to many people, especially people who need it most. While doing this he is teaching his philosophy through an education program. He is teaching the nation by being a positive example, and promoting his ideas to government by recently visiting the White House to promote a large-scale version of one of his gardens for Michelle Obama. Will Allen has set an example of how farming can unite communities and the nation, and together we have the growing power to create a better, healthier world.

About Zak Suhar

Explorer, photographer, and digital marketer. New York City by way of the Midwest.
This entry was posted in Cities, Education, Food and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

139 Responses to Will Allen – Planting the Seeds of the Future

  1. Pingback: The GOOD 100 | Zak Suhar

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  3. Love to read about innovators — thank you for sharing this!


  4. motivation says:

    Will Allen, you are an inspiration to us all. Well done and may ur story reach far and wide and may your successs be all our success in helping change our world for the better. Kind regards from http://allansjourney.wordpress.com

  5. banbamama says:

    I am so glad that people like Will Allen exist in this world. I wish his project all the luck in the world and hope others follow in his footsteps. Congrats on being freshly pressed.

  6. K9vin says:

    I live in Milwaukee and have followed Will for a time now. He is a great guy with amazing ideas – and best of all he sees them through.

  7. April Moore says:

    What an inspiration! The world could use more people like Mr. Allen.

  8. Amazing man! Food security in urban areas must be addressed. Thank the farming gods this man is making a difference!

  9. Thank you for sharing! Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed, too 🙂

  10. Pingback: Will Allen – Planting the Seeds of the Future « PUENTES

  11. Will Allen is awesome – thanks for helping his awesome work and attitude reach more people!

  12. joeleagle says:

    Will Allen, way to go! The UM hat says it all!!!!

  13. Nicole says:

    Fantastic post written about an inspiring person. Thanks, Zak!

  14. monkeygreens says:

    This is beautiful, exciting, and fabulous! My husband and I practice urban gardening/ farming on a double lot and vend our chemical free, local collard greens, kale and swiss chard at one of our cities farmer’s markets (see my MonkeyGreens blog). I love the concept -to -practice of what this man is doing; my husband and I are part of a community effort to encourage just these sort of ideals reaching fruition, ESP in areas of low commerce and high need. Every person does matter, it all begins with one step. Thank you……!

  15. Awesome story. Love hearing about people like Will Allen. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  16. johnsuhar says:

    Great post – thanks for sharing Zak! “Planners and Thinkers are great but doers change the world” – Will Allen. More thoughts extracted from Will Allen’s Manifesto linked here http://johnsuhar.wordpress.com/2010/04/13/growing-power/

  17. Will Allen is an authentic gift to the world. Please keep it (the farm) growing and glowing around the globe! What a powerful example of selflessness and humanity. How wonderful to read about this on the birthday of the Honorable Rolihlahla Dalibunga Madiba, also known as the Great Nelson Mandela.

  18. pathwriter says:

    Very cool…thanks for posting!

  19. NorCal Sal says:

    Amazing what one person with a positive idea can do. Thanks for sharing.

  20. sustayn says:

    Excellent post Zak, I found it very informative. I’m amazed at how much food he can produce.

  21. gaycarboys says:

    That’s just amazing! And well done may I just say. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  22. Green Queen says:

    What a great story. Very inspiring. Thanks for sharing!

  23. It is great to hear that Mr. Allen is bringing “Farm to Table” to this community. Thank you for the post.

  24. He really is a great example of how one person can make a change. What a great story. Also, Go ‘Canes!

  25. I bet that Will Allen would have been successful no matter what.

  26. It’s so important to mention people like this… as sometimes we get too caught up in the celebrity hype.. Great post!

  27. Great article! I will look deeper into urban farming. I am very interested in this topic. Thank you for sharing!

    • Zak Suhar says:

      Thanks for the comment, and I am glad you are interested. Consider searching for a similar movement in your own city, and be sure to visit Growing Power!

  28. Dumb says:

    He was doing an excellent job thanks for blogpost.

  29. great story! I just saw a documentary on him too! I hope this initiative continues to flourish! Thanks for sharing!!

  30. abbylorenz says:

    Thanks for sharing, I love stories like this!

  31. Eva McCane says:

    very cool blog! thanks for sharing. we need more guys like him.

  32. Jared says:

    I saw the episode of “Big Ideas for A Small Planet” that featured Allen. I love his work!

  33. This is a great story. I’ve spent some time volunteering on farms and learning about urban farming… there are few projects more important than giving education and access about quality foods to low-income communities. This is the future~

  34. Amy says:

    I live near Milwaukee and have been to the Growing Powers store and greenhouses. I even helped to start seedlings with some other students at a nearby university. He’s such an inspiring person! Thanks for sharing this!

  35. We need more Will Allen in this World. If we can do what he does, it’s all going to be green and prosperous everywhere. Great post.

  36. Happily Lost says:

    Inspiring story. What great work!

  37. I hope the future generation still has abundance of vegetables and plants accompanying them.

  38. SherryGreens says:

    This is amazing and fantastic. The world needs more Will Allens. I really believe that cultivating local and urban agriculture is so key to combating childhood obesity, a reconnection with food and with nature, as well as climate change (let’s reduce those food miles). Plus, gardening and providing sustenance for your family with food you grew yourself is very rewarding.

  39. JRaiLuvChild says:

    thanks for sharing, you learn something new everyday

  40. dollarsaenz says:

    Awesome! Exactly what we need to get back to in order to change our food supply and better the lives of the people in our communities. Don’t leave it to big Ag.

  41. rtcrita says:

    I am inspired when I read about people like this. Every day is a new day, and a chance to make the world better!

  42. Great stuff, nice to see people who are making difference on their own way.

  43. mkeeffer says:

    Go Will! Thanks for the inspiration, Zak….outstanding!

  44. JMarcellW says:

    Awesome post! Thanks for sharing!

  45. This stuff is such an inspiration! It would be really nice if there were more Will Allens in this world. Thanks for sharing!

  46. Cirano says:

    Hello, I read your post from Italy is very interesting. I think will contact Will to replicate his experience in my city.
    Thank you.

  47. As the heat growing up, keeping seeds for future is nessery for our human
    Great news for the wholes world!

  48. Dhienar says:

    Hey, I’m Dhienar, a student of Bogor Agricultural University.
    u know what, this is awesome! We need to do more, talk less.. 🙂

  49. Great organic sustainable! Well done allen

  50. And don’t forget he was awarded a MacArtur Fellow and received a half million dollar genius grant in recognition of his creativity. I feel like an old lady with a high school crush.


  51. CONIEFOX says:

    Very inspirational~!Great Job

  52. Colin L Beadon says:

    Will Allen,
    If 90 % of the people in the world were like you in agriculture, they would be working, and there would be little starvation, and lower food cost. Instead of that, those people are stuck on Facebooks and Twitters, and cell phones and Ipads, getting very little true work of any kind done.

  53. Pingback: Will Allen and Growing Power « A Gaming Girl's Take on Life

  54. donnahuebsch says:

    This guy is such a hero! What’s he’s doing is so inspiring. I loved your post and congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  55. jedelauche says:

    Will Allen and his work are GREAT! God bless him and his work. Thanks for this blog, too.

  56. www.giftspersonalized.us says:

    Great Blog, I love to hear a story about someone who gave up the life of riches and greed to truly live a live of “riches” what great news.

  57. Ginger says:

    Dear Zak,

    Thanks for portraying such a positive contribution to society. This is very uplifting and inspirational for other people. Will and you are the real heroes of a society, which desperately needs improvement.
    To hear from these examples furthers true democracy and change in society.

    Peace and smiles


  58. Adam Gonnerman says:

    Great post. How is this project funded? I was also a little unclear on the education mentioned in the post. Urban agriculture like this, if sustainable, can make a big difference in urban “food deserts.”

    • Zak Suhar says:

      Thanks for the comment! To my understanding, Growing Power’s project is mainly funded through grants and generous donations. Above, gardengoodies commented by saying that Will, “was awarded a MacArtur Fellow and received a half million dollar genius grant in recognition of his creativity.” He also has several accolades including being named to the Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. As far as education, there are many young kids working at the farm, including internships which encourages hands on instruction. Hopefully the wealth of knowledge can be passed down onto generations to come.

  59. coupons says:

    When talking to Heather we were reflecting on the value of the Ripple project. We feel we have delivered incredible value for money given the small amount of funding that was available. The institutions we are supporting are experiencing real benefits “the Ripple effect” and whilst we cannot hope to achieve massive institutional change, we are planting the seeds for future growth

  60. What your doing is a breath of fresh air. I have been researching Aquaponics for the last few years and it is nice to see you getting the information out; this is all we can do. I have been following your videos for some time and you are establishing a great deal of credibility with your work.

    I started an Aquaponics blog with an emphasis on system research:
    I will provide users on my blog a link to your site. Good luck and keep the information coming.

  61. Pingback: Growing vegies and impacting your world. | goldcoastgardendiary

  62. Pingback: Will Allen – Planting the Seeds of the Future (via Zak Suhar) « feedintothefeed

  63. Pingback: Will Allen – Planting the Seeds of the Future (via Zak Suhar) « National FFA Organization Blog

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  65. Pingback: The Sky is the Limit | Zak Suhar

  66. EssyL says:

    Will is nothing short of amazing! Great blog, couldn’t help but reblog it!

  67. Pingback: Will Allen – Planting the Seeds of the Future « Honey Bunches of Oats

  68. realanonymousgirl2011 says:


  69. HardDrink says:

    Thank you for sharing this ……

  70. paulmorejon says:

    Inspiring and glad you’re spreading the word on his work. Saw this piece after hearing him on public radio – thanks for sharing as great ideas & the people who work on them need our support. http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/video/allens-good-food-revolution-10682786

  71. Pingback: I was so Freshly Pressed! | Juicebox

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