Mission: To support people from diverse backgrounds, and the environments in which they live, by helping to provide access to healthy, high-quality, safe, and affordable food.
About the Organization: Founded in 1996 by Will Allen, a former professional basketball player who grew up on a small farm, Growing Power is a Milwaukee-based nonprofit organization focused on the development of community food systems that help local residents grow, process, market, and distribute food in a sustainable manner. The organization got started when Allen, who had secured a three-acre site to sell produce grown on his wife's family farm in a Milwaukee suburb, realized he could grow and raise healthy, high-quality food in an urban neighborhood where fresh food of any kind was hard to find. In short order, Allen began teaching children from a nearby public housing project how to grow vegetables using innovative techniques such as composting, vermicomposting, and aquaponics, and in 2008, he was awarded a John D. and Catherine T. McArthur Foundation "Genius Grant" for his efforts.
Current Programs: Growing Power operates more than seventy projects and outreach programs across the United States, and around the world — including urban and/or "vertical" farms, beekeeping, livestock raising, and various energy initiatives at its farms in Milwaukee, Chicago, and Madison. Products from the farms are distributed through subsidized food baskets, community supported agriculture (CSA) programs, and vendors. The organization's education programs include Youth Corps, a year-round leadership program that provides life skills and job training to underserved youth; internships; and workshops that offer hands-on training in all aspects of developing and maintaining a sustainable community food system. Through its outreach programs, Growing Power donates small gardens to licensed daycare facilities and charities in Milwaukee, while its Regional Outreach Training Centers and workshops serve as training sites for community organizations committed to urban and small farming across the United States. Growing Power also is involved in initiatives such as the Chicago Food Policy Council and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, which support policies that advance food security and sustainable agriculture, as well as the Growing Food and Justice for All Initiative, which is aimed at dismantling racism and empowering low-income communities and communities of color through sustainable, local agriculture.
Website: Visitors to the site can learn about what Growing Power grows and how; the food basket and CSA programs through which its products are distributed; and/or farmers' markets and restaurants where those products are sold. Visitors also can keep up with news from the organization or find out how to take a tour of one of its farms, volunteer, and/or make a donation.
Funding: Growing Power is funded by foundations, government agencies, and individuals.