Will Allen's Coming to Town: 12-6:30pm, Sun., Mar. 6th

"2011 Thriving, Beyond Sustainability Workshop"
Featuring Growing Powers’ Will Allen
DATE:   March 06, 2011
HOURS:    Noon- 6:30pm
LOCATION:   FAMU Center of Viticulture and Small Fruit
 6505 East Mayhan Drive (Hwy 90)

FAMU StateWide Small Farm Programs, local small farmers, and a coalition of sustainable food advocates including Tallahassee Sustainability Group, Man in Overalls with Tallahassee Food Gardens, Greater FrenchTown Revitalization Council,  Damayan Garden Project, Project Food, and Sowing Seeds Sewing Comfort Ministry, have worked together to provide a wonderful opportunity for the community to come out and learn from  innovative urban farmer, Will Allen,  founder and CEO of Growing Power, Inc.

Will Allen, "Farmer, Founder, CEO of Growing Power" will be in Tallahassee for sometime in March for an all-day workshop to discuss the work and success of Growing Power's Community Food Center as well as lead a hands-on soil-building workshop focused on composting and vermicomposting.  Additionally, Will's presence will serve as a gathering force to network the many spokes of the Tallahassee, north Florida, and regional food movements for collaborative strategizing.  Mark your calendars.  Additional Info here (re: registration, etc). Email Jennifer Taylor with registration questions.

The cost is $60 with a healthy (organic?) lunch provided. (That's less than the cost of a ticket to the UF v. FSU game). As Louise from Turkey Hill Farm wrote: "WELL worth the price of admission. If you are interested in community food systems, urban agriculture, aquaponics, sprouts, composting, organic agriculture, livestock, healthy affordable food.... then Will Allen is the man to see." Click to register.

Growing Power's work is truly remarkable.  On three acres in the heart of Milwaukee's northside they've got six green houses, two or three 10,000 gallon aquaponic (fish + hydroponic plants) systems, 20,000 plants, micro-greens, goats, turkeys, chickens, bees, and one of the best vermi (worm) composting operations in the nation.  Will Allen is quite remarkable himself: MacArthur Genius Award recipient, among Time's 100 Most Influential People in 2010, State Dinner guest at the White House per his contribution to Michele's Let's Move Campaign to address childhood obesity, founding member of the Community Food Security Coalition's Urban Agriculture Committee.  And it all started with his parent's share-cropping background, a stunt in pro basketball, and a handful of  kids in Milwaukee's northside that wanted to learn how to grow food. 

Take a few minutes to brush up on Will Allen.  The videos below can be an entry point, but don't stop there.  The work he's done, coordinated, and inspired across the country is remarkable.  Movements tend to adopt heroes, and Will has certainly earned the right to shoulder such a title amidst the food movement, or the "Good Food Revolution" as he likes to call it.  At 6'7", he's also got a hero-worthy stature.

A Good Sampling from Youtube.
"2008 MacArthur Fellow: Will Allen"
"Growing Power - Will Allen"
"1 MILLION pounds of Food on 3 acres. 10,000 fish 500 yards compost"
"Good Food Revolution - Urban Farmer Gets Attention of White House

If you're still up for reading/learning more, I recommend Will Allen's "A Good Food Manifesto for America."
While you're at it, if you're wondering who's carry the torch here in the big bend area, take a look at these posts.

And just in case you're interested: the cool back-story is that Will Allen's visit is serving to link an amorphous network of educators, organizers, growers, and "Good Food Revolution" supporters in common cause.  Last week, responding to the call of Jennifer Taylor with FAMU's Small Farm's Program (who is actually coordinating the logistics of Mr Allen's visit) representatives from the Greater Frenchtown Revitalization Council, the Damayan Garden Project, Project Food, Cultural Arts Natural Design International, Tallahassee Sustainability Group (an FSU Student Org.), Native Nurseries and I met to develop POA's for fundraising, communication/recruitment, logistics, and programing.  Yesterday, we met again, and this time we were joined by a long-time friend of Will Allen (who lives in Tallahassee), two Jackson County farmers of color, as well as folks from Amen Ra's Bookshop, Gallery, and Cultural Center. Also in the periphery of support is the UF IFAS extension, Second Harvest Food Bank, the Tallahassee Edible Garden Club, and others too many to count.

If, by the way, you're willing to sponsor one or two students or low-income folks to attend Will Allen's workshop, would you please send me an email. Thanks.

Just Fruits and Exotics, Orchard Pond Organics, Damayan, Stacy Rasky with TallyLife and a couple other folks have already taken up the cause by pledging scholarship money.  Thanks a bundle.

PS- Let's invite our elected officials to learn about Will Allen's success and vision of economic development via a vibrant "local food industry."  Here's a few links to aid your attempt to solicit their presence at Will's workshop: Tallahassee City Commission, Leon County Board of County Commissioners, Leon County Sheriff, State Representatives Vasilinda, Williams, and Coley, State Senators Dean and Montford.

We might just have a movement on our hands amidst all the great folks doing fantastic work.  How exciting!