Will Allen (urban farmer)

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Will Allen
Will Allen holding fish.jpg
Will Allen holds a tilapia in his hand at the urban farm Growing Power
Born (1949-02-08) February 8, 1949 (age 65)
Rockville, Maryland, United States
Residence Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States
Education B.A. Physical Education (1971)[1][2]
Honorary Ph.D. Agriculture (2012)[3]
Alma mater University of Miami
University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee
Occupation Chief Executive Officer
Employer Growing Power
Known for Urban farming, Professional basketball
Height 6 feet 7 inches (201 cm)[4]
Spouse(s) Cynthia
Children Erika, Jason, Adrianna
Awards 2008 MacArthur Fellowship, Genius Award
Website
growingpower.org

Will Allen (born February 8, 1949) is an American urban farmer based in Milwaukee and a retired professional basketball player.

Basketball career[edit]

Will Allen was a high school state champion in basketball at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, Maryland.[1][5] Allen played collegiately for the Miami Hurricanes at the University of Miami, where he was on basketball scholarship.[6] He was the first African-American to play basketball for the University of Miami.[1]

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.[7] He also played professionally in Belgium.[8]

Allen retired from basketball in 1977, when he was 28.[8] Upon retirement, Allen moved to Milwaukee, his wife Cynthia's hometown.[1]

Urban farming[edit]

Will Allen’s parents were sharecroppers in South Carolina until they bought the small vegetable farm in Rockville, Maryland, where Allen grew up.[9][10]

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.[8] Around this time, Allen also purchased a 100-acre farm in Oak Creek, previously owned by his wife's parents.[1][11]

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.[10][11]

In 2005, Allen was awarded a Ford Foundation leadership grant on behalf of his urban farming work.[8][11] In 2008, he was awarded the MacArthur Foundation "Genius Grant" for his work on urban farming and sustainable food production.[11][12] In 2009, the Kellogg Foundation gave Allen a grant to create jobs in urban agriculture.[8][13]

Will Allen appears in the documentary film, Fresh. The film refers to Allen as "one of the most influential leaders of the food security and urban farming movement."[14]

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. [15] The book was nominated for a 2013 NAACP Image Award in the category of biography/autobiography. [16]

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.[3]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]