Sun's take on Will Allen

People are still talking about Will Allen and the lecture he gave Monday night at the Mckimmon Center. Check out our rundown, with links to other blogs and writeups, here. Here's what the Food Shuttle own guru of farms, Sun Butler, had to say about it.

Grandfather Willl Allen, founder of  the urban farming non-profit 'Growing Power' spoke to packed houses in both Goldsboro and Raleigh this Monday.  I refer to him as "grandfather" because his sixteen year history working the last farm in Milwaukee WI city limits, his work with inner city youth and a city wide composting program have established Will as the Grandfather of the urban farming movement.

At 6'5" with arms the size of tree trunks, Mr. Allen cut a Paul Bunyanesque figure walking to the podium.  As he narrated his way through 600 slides of Growing Power projects in 7 US cities and 6 countries it was easy to see how the mythology around this self effacing MacArthur grant winner has grown.  Thanks to his efforts neighborhoods that society has given up on bloomed with food opportunitiy and hope.   Will's favorite strategy is to "flower bomb"; planting beautifully designed gardens in vacant lots in drug infested neghborhoods.  The result - the drug dealers move out.  Even more impressive are Growing Power programs that divert millions of tons of biodegradable waste from urban landfills.  Made into compost that in turn feeds the army of worms that power Will's vermi-composters, the final product is trucked to local neighborhoods to build instant community gardens.

The highlight of the talk were the pictures of the kids and Will's description of the pure joy they experience getting their hands dirty and making things grow.  Will Allen is a susccessful farmer and a businessman.  But he also reminds me of my own grandfather who was once chided by a neighbor that his front lawn would grow more grass if he kept all those kids off of it.  Grandpa just laughed and said " Well sir, I not growing grass, I am growing kids!"