His programs transform the lives of low-income families by hiring inner-city residents and working to provide high-quality, healthy and affordable food for all residents in the community. Allen has a simple but life-changing goal: to grow food, to grow minds, and to grow community.
Through a novel synthesis of a variety of low cost farming technologies, Growing Power produces vast amounts of food year round at its main farming site, two acres of land within Milwaukee’s city limits.
Allen considers safe and quality food to be a civil rights issue and has been determined to challenge the disparities in food access and quality in our country and across the world. Growing Power has farm sites in Wisconsin and Illinois, urban farm sites in Milwaukee and Chicago and leads workshops to teach its methods to people from around the world.
Allen has been awarded the MacArthur “Genius” prize, leadership grants from The Ford Foundation and The Kellogg Foundation and was recognized by Fast Company Magazine as “one of the 100 most creative people of 2009”. He has been featured in the New York Times, Better Homes and Gardens, The Chicago Sun Times and ABC News.
Allen received a B.A. from the University of Miami. He later was awarded an honorary Doctor of Agriculture degree from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee.
After a brief career in professional basketball and a number of years in corporate marketing at Proctor and Gamble, he returned to his roots as a farmer, founding Growing Power in 1993. As a youngster, he had to do chores on his construction worker father’s small farm before he could practice sports. His 3 grown children have similar stories about growing up with him.
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