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Fourth Annual Food Symposium to Feature Will Allen, Panel Discussion and Pie-Baking Contest

Allen Wrote 'The Good Food Revolution: Growing Healthy Food, People and Communities'

March 13, 2013

Will Allen, farmer and CEO/founder of Growing Power, Inc., will speak at the 2013 Wilmington College Food Symposium on March 20, at 7:30 p.m., in Hugh G. Heiland Theatre located in the Boyd Cultural Arts Center.

The theme of this year’s symposium is "Foodscapes: Cultivating a Community Food System for the Future.” The day's event are free and open to the public.

In addition to Allen’s keynote address, the symposium will feature a pie-baking contest in the McCoy Room of Kelly Center, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., with a public tasting event to follow, and a panel discussion on the topic of “Gaps in the Food Chain: from Production to Distribution to Consumption,” from 2:30 to 4 p.m., in the McCoy Room.

Allen, a retired professional basketball player, is a MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Award recipient and author of The Good Food Revolution: Growing Healthy Food, People and Communities. He will discuss his role in facilitating community food systems that are designed to provide “equal access to healthy, high-quality, safe and affordable food for people in all communities.”

The Growing Power organization, led by Allen, offers workshops on how to grow, process, market and distribute food. Most demonstrations and training modules take place at designated hubs, “Community Food Centers,” established in rural and urban areas across the United States.

Michael Snarr, professor of social and political studies and a member of the symposium planning committee, believes Allen will be a popular speaker with students and other members of the audience.

“I was intrigued by Will Allen when I saw him in the documentary Fresh. I thought, here is a charismatic guy—introducing urban gardening to folks in poor sections of Milwaukee—who will appeal to a broad range of people, especially anyone interested in using innovative ways to feed people,” he said.

(LEFT) Will Allen will discuss his role in facilitating community food systems.

Allen’s main two-acre Community Food Center in Milwaukee is small compared to the average local farm in Clinton County, Ohio. But, it houses six greenhouses, two aquaponic hoop houses, seven conventional hoop houses for plants, a worm depository, an apiary with 14 beehives, three poultry hoop houses, outdoor pens for goats, turkeys and chickens, an anaerobic digester to produce energy from farm wastes, and a rainwater catchment system.

The entire center attracts tourists from all sectors and walks of life—representatives from government, education, and religion and large and small farmers, alike—all interested in the Growing Power model.

In a statement from the organization’s blog, Allen says, “I am a farmer. While I find that this has come to mean many other things to other people—that I have become also a trainer and teacher, and to some a sort of food philosopher—I do like nothing better than to get my hands into good rich soil and sow the seeds of hope.”

Allen’s innovative model for community-capacity building has received significant accolades in recent years. Along with the MacArthur award, he received a Ford Foundation leadership grant in 2005 and a Kellogg Foundation grant in 2009 to facilitate his work with Growing Power in the area of urban and sustainable farming.

“His model for growing food will surely continue to spread to communities throughout the United States and beyond,” Snarr added.

For more information on this year’s symposium, contact Corey Cockerill at Wilmington College, 937-382-6661, ext. 302.

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