Feeding the world

Gloria Hafemeister
Now Media Group


In its 22nd year, Growing Power continues to build what founder Will Allen terms 'a sustainable food system.'

As Allen reviewed Growing Power's accomplishments in 2015, he said, 'We continue our focus building the world's first true vertical farm at Growing Power's national headquarters in Milwaukee. Vertical farms will be necessary to feed an increased population where 75 percent of the world's people will live in and around major cities.'

Along with the vertical farm, Allen hopes to increase the food growing capacity by continuing to create new soil with the help of worms and recycled food waste from the Growing Power gardens and Milwaukee food processing companies and restaurants.

Plans for the new year also include continuation of trainings to grow more aquaculture farmers.

'We currently work with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences in order to produce and share our research,' Allen said.

Looking back at successes of the last year, Allen said in the summer they installed 30 gardens at Milwaukee licensed daycare facilities with funding from the City of Milwaukee's community development grants administration.

Growing power provided tours and education for 30,000 visitors last year and trained 400 people in community food systems through the 'From the Ground Up' workshop series held one weekend each month, January through June.

Growing Power distributed more than 3,000 bags of fresh produce through their farm to City Market Basket program. They also continued their CSA program, offering full and half vegetable shares and a fish CSA with farm-fresh perch. Growing Power also continued the winter farmer's market each Saturday at their warehouse in Butler.

Youth programs

At Growing Power's Chicago, Milwaukee and Madison locations, they continued their youth corps program through which more than 350 youth were engaged in sustainable agriculture and food literacy.

Moving beyond Wisconsin, Allen said, 'In November, we began the Haitian Aquaculture Project, a program through which Haitians will visit Growing Power to be trained in aquaponics and, upon their return to Haiti, will be joined by two aquaponic experts to continue that training. This revolutionary project was funded by the U.S. Haitian Embassy.'

Growing Power also continued the aquaponics therapy programs with Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans with Vets Place.

Allen is proud of their many achievements in the past year and in the plans they have for the future. Growing Power works together with many other organizations concerned about urban families having access to healthy foods.

'We will continue this year with our Market Basket Angels program where people can donate a basket full of our fresh food to people in need. We were able to donate 157 baskets to local social service agencies during the weeks of Thanksgiving and Christmas in 2014. We also donated baskets to Vets Place, Children's Service Society and others.'

As the year moves on, Growing Power continues to focus on existing programs while raising funds to build the vertical farm. To learn more about that project, check out the Growing Power website at www.growingpower.org.