Will Allen among ‘Time 100: The World’s Most Influential People’

Karen Herzog of the Journal Sentinel –

“Milwaukee urban farmer Will Allen is a world hero, according to the editors of Time magazine.

Allen, founder of the Growing Power farm and training center on Milwaukee’s north side, joins former President Bill Clinton and 23 others in the hero category of  The 2010 “Time 100: The World’s Most Influential People” . The annual “Time 100” issue hits newstands Friday.

Allen has long been a force in the field of urban agriculture. He gained national acclaim for his work in 2008, when he was named a John D. and Catherine T. McArthur Foundation Fellow and a winner of one of the foundation’s prestigious “genius grants.”

Allen also is a member of the Clinton Global Initiative, an organization of leaders and thinkers founded by Bill and Hillary Clinton to to address global challenges, including hunger and malnutrition. And in February, First Lady Michelle Obama invited Allen to the White House to speak to the nation at the launch of her “Let’s Move!” initiative to reverse childhood obesity in America.

Allen was honored by Time for his powerful advocacy for food security and food justice. He has called attention to the widespread existence of “food deserts” in cities across America, where whole communities lack access to fresh, nutritious and affordable foods.

Allen in the 15 years since he founded Growing Power has advocated for a return to localized food systems and teaching communities where good food isn’t affordable to grow it themselves.

“We have seen the results of our reliance on the industrialized, commoditized food system we have built since the middle of the last century: A rapidly rising rate of obesity in generation after generation, leading to alarming rates of diabetes and heart disease, so that for the first time in America, despite all our advances in medicine, our life expectancy is falling,” Allen said in a press release Thursday morning.

“Finally, we are learning that treating illness is much less effective than preventing illness by promoting health; and that good food is the best and most fundamental preventive medicine of all.”

The Time 100 honors two other national proponents of the “Good Food Revolution,” as Allen calls it. Author and food advocate Michael Pollan (“The Omnivore’s Dilemma”), and Valentin Abe, who has successfully introduced tilapia farming to a depleted lake in Haiti, also are on the list.

Time magazine created its first 100 list in 1999, when it named the most influential people of the 20th Century. In 2004, the magazine started the annual list, stressing that the people it names are not necessarily the most public, popular or powerful, but often are the most innovative or inspirational and the most apt to effect change.” – link

The 2010 Time 100 –

“At one time, the term urban farm sounded like an oxymoron. No longer.

A new movement is sprouting up in America’s low-income neighborhoods. Some urban residents, sick of fast food and the scarcity of grocery stores, have decided to grow good food for themselves.

One of the movement’s (literally) towering icons is Will Allen, 62, of Milwaukee’s Growing Power Inc. His main 2-acre Community Food Center is no larger than a small supermarket. But it houses 20,000 plants and vegetables, thousands of fish, plus chickens, goats, ducks, rabbits and bees.

People come from around the world to marvel — and to learn. Says Allen: “Everybody, regardless of their economic means, should have access to the same healthy, safe, affordable food that is grown naturally.”

The movement’s aim is not just healthier people but a healthier planet. Food grown in cities is trucked shorter distances. Translation: more greenhouses in the ‘hood equals less greenhouse gas in the air.

Just as important, farm projects grow communities and nourish hope. The best ones will produce more leaders like Allen, with his credo “Grow. Bloom. Thrive.” – Van Jones, link

For more on Will and sky farming – click here

Jones, founder of Green for All, is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress

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