The Good Food Revolution

The Good Food Revolution

Growing Healthy Food, People, and Communities

Book - 2012
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A pioneering urban farmer and MacArthur "Genius Award" winner points the way to building a new food system that can feed--and heal--broken communities.

The son of a sharecropper, Will Allen had no intention of ever becoming a farmer himself. But after years in professional basketball and as an executive for Kentucky Fried Chicken and Procter & Gamble, Allen cashed in his retirement fund for a two-acre plot a half mile away from Milwaukee's largest public housing project. The area was a food desert with only convenience stores and fast-food restaurants to serve the needs of local residents.

In the face of financial challenges and daunting odds, Allen built the country's preeminent urban farm--a food and educational center that now produces enough vegetables and fish year-round to feed thousands of people. Employing young people from the neighboring housing project and community, Growing Power has sought to prove that local food systems can help troubled youths, dismantle racism, create jobs, bring urban and rural communities closer together, and improve public health. Today, Allen's organization helps develop community food systems across the country.

An eco-classic in the making, The Good Food Revolution is the story of Will's personal journey, the lives he has touched, and a grassroots movement that is changing the way our nation eats.
Publisher: New York, N.Y. : Gotham Books, 2012
ISBN: 9781592407101
Branch Call Number: 631.5 ALL 2012 23
Characteristics: xiv, 256 p. : ill
Additional Contributors: Wilson, Charles


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Feb 02, 2018

Having set up a successful compost program and reclaimed historic green space in my community garden, my co-coordinator and I are trying to figure out what our next steps should be. After I told my friend about the inspirational story of Avital Geva, an award-winning artist and gardener in Israel (who, incidentally, also got his start with a greenhouse), she turned me onto this book. I am now buzzing with ideas about how to take our space forward.

I'm genuinely puzzled by the other reviewers who wrote that there's no technique listed here. While this isn't a Gardening 101 guide, Allen spends a good portion of the book detailing some of his endeavors, particularly around compost and aquaponics. He also writes with a lot of specificity about how his experiments led to inadvertent energy savings (who knew raising chickens in a hoop house could eradicate the need for winter heat in Wisconsin?). He also details some of the businesses that his workshops helped inspire, both for-profit and non-profit.

The book is framed around Allen's biography, but as he takes pains to point out, his story is on many points illustrative of the story of many "second generation" Southern migrants: having spent their youth seeing their homegrown food as a sign of poverty, they appreciated as adults how much the ability to grow their own food was not only an asset to their health but -- maybe -- also their wallets.

The question hanging not over this book but all of Allen's endeavors is whether urban gardening can be profitable. While Growing Power has taken plenty of grants as they ramp up, perhaps the most famous being the Macarthur "Genius" Award, what Allen ultimately wants is for his farming to be as sustainable financially as it is environmentally. But in spite of the fact that they have yet to reach that goal, Growing Power has created enough jobs and opportunity that it should still, I think, be considered a genuine economic force.

While this is Allen's story, he is clear throughout that he didn't do this alone. I lost count of the number of people whom Allen partnered with or employed as he not only built but shaped his business. In this way, Growing Power not only created jobs and gave people access to healthy food, it also fostered community. That in and of itself should be considered a success.

Highly recommended for urban gardeners

Aug 02, 2017

The most remarkable thing about this inspiring book are his nonsense observations and descriptions of his process. Folx who are interested in raising worms for and example, have a good primer in his discussion of process.

m2 Jul 01, 2012

Wonderful! This is the life story of Will Allen who is changing the world up in Milwaukee every day. (And won a MacArthur Genius grant for it!) Anyone interested in urban gardening and urban farms should read this book. He is very inspiring. Made me want to tour his facility.


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