Let's Eat!
September 25, 2008 5:11 PM   Subscribe

Will Allen, the founder of Growing Power, an urban farm in Milwaukee, has won a MacArthur Genius grant. Growing Power uses aquaculture, vermiculture, and sustainable agriculture to raise food in an urban environment. Chefs of the region have taken notice, but that's not Growing Power's main purpose. Congratulations to only the second farmer to win a Genius Grant.

I liked this urban grass roots story of someone trying to make a difference, and glad to see him rewarded for his effort.
posted by Eekacat (14 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Hell yes. What an awesome project. Thanks for this!
posted by GuyZero at 5:17 PM on September 25, 2008

This is a wonderful project and I've been following it for a little bit. This may sound boringly generic, but more and more we need to address the conflicts we will be facing in the future. It's called being a pioneer. And there is nothing more noble.

posted by Lacking Subtlety at 5:26 PM on September 25, 2008

Sounds awesome, although it's impossible to find out details from that website. But I guess that's what the grant is for: expansion.
posted by DU at 5:30 PM on September 25, 2008

I know Charlie Trotter's buys from the one near Cabrini all the time.
posted by timsteil at 5:36 PM on September 25, 2008

Yay vermicompost! Worm wranglers represent.

I'm just in here for the worms.
posted by rusty at 5:51 PM on September 25, 2008

This guy actually just came and spoke at my school on monday. Cool.

/skipped out on it to play disc golf instead
/ok, i do regret it a bit after hearing great reviews from friends.
posted by fizzix at 6:11 PM on September 25, 2008

This is so neat. Everyone should see it.

posted by The Whelk at 6:42 PM on September 25, 2008

Cool rusty, I've got a worm bin in my house. Worms eat my garbage!

I'm a cynical bastard, but the more I read about this story, the more I was impressed. This kind of thing really cuts through all my doubts about people. It's just so awesome from so many standpoints.

Too bad you missed it fizzix, I would have liked to heard your first-hand impressions.
posted by Eekacat at 6:46 PM on September 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

I read up on vermicomposting and thought about it. But then I thought "Worms. In the house." And that was the end of that.
posted by DU at 6:51 PM on September 25, 2008

Worms eat my garbage too. Don't think of it as vermicomposting, think of it as 400-800 pets. In a box. Eating your garbage.
posted by Drab_Parts at 7:02 PM on September 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Worm bin gal representing.

This is fantastic news. I'm working with some folks on the state level to create a strategic plan for community gardens. This gives me more of the background I need.

The thing about urban agriculture is that so many different types of agencies can get on board. Establishing community gardens (in urban areas especially) addresses food security, community building, public health and more that I'm not even remembering. I hope that our work can get some projects like this off the ground and create a venue for technical support for the projects.

Happy me!
posted by Stewriffic at 7:06 PM on September 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Yay vermicompost! Worm wranglers represent.

From frauds like B&B worms, to the old growth and Happy Wrigglers Ranch forums, I put out a pile of scraps for you E. Hortenis.

And I salute the still going Worm Digest

And flow thru bins, Jet Compost pre-treatment, plus a bit of Black Soldier fly maggots won't do ya wrong.
posted by rough ashlar at 9:19 PM on September 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Fun fact about McArthur Genius Grants: John D. McArthur himself dropped out of high school after his first year and probably wouldn't have cared the least about giving money to geniuses.
posted by twoleftfeet at 10:58 PM on September 25, 2008

Growing Power is a really amazing project. Check out the street view around 60th and silver spring, about 5 blocks west for a typical representation of the area to get an idea of what they mean by "one of Milwaukeee's most economically distressed neighborhoods". Those brown brick buildings are public housing, the area is dominated by run-down strip malls and boarded up storefronts, and from what the city's community mapping software shows there were 4 homicides in 2007 within a 10-block radius. It would be easy to drive past Growing Power (on the relatively congested thoroughfare that is Silver Spring Ave) without so much as giving it a second glance, or mistake it for being abandoned. But inside is one of the most productive and capable urban agriculture projects around today. That they've accomplished that in an inhospitable environment with little financing, but tons of community involvement is simply inspirational.

If you'd like to see what it looks like, you can take a virtual tour and see some videos. They also receive a mention on the second and third page of this NYT article on Urban Agriculture.

I feel honored to have them, as well as the Milwaukee Urban Agriculture Network, here in Milwaukee. MUAN is another great organization which recently held a conference that brought in attendees from around the world and toured the Growing Power site (but sadly was too expensive for me to attend). I hope everyone involved keeps up the good work. Awesome.
posted by nTeleKy at 9:27 AM on September 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

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