Will Allen (urban farmer)
February 8, 1949 |
Rockville, Maryland, United States
|Residence||Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States|
|Education||B.A. Physical Education (1971)
Honorary Ph.D. Agriculture (2012)
|Alma mater||University of Miami
University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee
|Occupation||Chief Executive Officer|
|Known for||Urban farming, Professional basketball|
|Height||6 feet 7 inches (201 cm)|
|Children||Erika, Jason, Adrianna|
|Awards||2008 MacArthur Fellowship, Genius Award|
Will Allen was a high school state champion in basketball at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, Maryland. Allen played collegiately for the Miami Hurricanes at the University of Miami, where he was on basketball scholarship. He was the first African-American to play basketball for the University of Miami.
After college Allen was selected by the Baltimore Bullets in the 4th round (60th pick overall) of the 1971 NBA Draft. He never played in the NBA, but appeared in seven games with The Floridians of the ABA during the 1971–72 season. He also played professionally in Belgium. After his career he married his wife Barbra Allen and had a daughter named Nychea Lewis.
Finishing a career in marketing, Allen left a job at Procter & Gamble in 1993 and purchased Growing Power, a derelict plant nursery that was in foreclosure, located on the north side of Milwaukee. Around this time, Allen also purchased a 100-acre farm in Oak Creek, previously owned by his wife's parents.
Allen currently serves as director of Growing Power, a now mature urban farming project in Milwaukee, with a 40-acre farm west of Milwaukee in the town of Merton and an off-shoot project in Chicago run by Allen's daughter, Erika.
In 2005, Allen was awarded a Ford Foundation leadership grant on behalf of his urban farming work. In 2008, he was awarded the MacArthur Foundation "Genius Grant" for his work on urban farming and sustainable food production. In 2009, the Kellogg Foundation gave Allen a grant to create jobs in urban agriculture.
Will Allen is the co-author, with Charles Wilson, of the book The Good Food Revolution: Growing Healthy Food, People and Communities, published by Gotham Books, a member of Penguin Group, USA.  The book was nominated for a 2013 NAACP Image Award in the category of biography/autobiography. 
On May 20, 2012, Allen was awarded an honorary Doctor of Agriculture degree from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. He also delivered the commencement address for the commencement ceremony held on that day.
- A will and a way for Allen: MacArthur grant aids urban farmer’s quest to bring fresh food to inner city - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
- 2008 MacArthur Fellows: Will Allen
- Stafford, Beth (May 9, 2012). "UW-Milwaukee Spring Commencement 2012" (Press release). University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. Retrieved June 12, 2012.
- Barbara Miner (September 25, 2008). "An Urban Farmer Is Rewarded for His Dream". The New York Times. p. F6.
- Growing Power in an Urban Food Desert: Will Allen is bringing farming and fresh foods back into city neighborhoods - YES! Magazine
- Making Fresh Food Affordable - O, The Oprah Magazine
- Allen career statistics
- Farmer, Elizabeth (July 5, 2009). "Street Farmer". The New York Times Magazine. p. MM22. Retrieved June 12, 2012.
- Milwaukee's Growing Power Founder Pushes Urban Farming
- Urban farmer’s work honored: Growing Power’s Allen gets MacArthur 'genius grant' - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
- 25 Receive $500,000 MacArthur 'Genius' Fellowships - The New York Times
- Will Allen and Growing Power in the national spotlight again - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
- "Fresh" celebrates Growing Power on film - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel