Will Allen Food Deserts




Kansas City Hosts Urban Agriculture Pioneer Will Allen

Founder of Growing Power, Inc., teaches aquaponics workshop, gives keynote address.

By Adenike AmenRa

On August 27, Kansas Citians had the opportunity to meet and learn from one of Urban Agriculture’s most prominent innovators and advocates: Will Allen. As Founder and CEO of Growing Power, Allen and a crew of builders, accepted an invitation by Kansas City’s Green Acres Urban Farm and Research Project to spend a day here in town, sharing insights and technologies on the topic of “Abolish Food Deserts.” The day started with a keynote lecture at the Discovery Center in Kansas City, MO, in which Allen discussed some of the production technologies he developed at Growing Power, including aquaponics, composting and year-round production.

Allen also discussed urban agriculture in the broader context of food sovereignty and food deserts.

After attending a reception with youth at the KCMO Bluford Library, Allen spent the afternoon conducting a Master Building Workshop at East High School on Van Brunt Bl. At this event, folks learned to build aquaponics bunk bed systems designed to raise fish and vegetables in a nutrient-cycling unit. More than 30 participants acquired important food production and farming skills which they are able to take back into their communities and pass on to others.


Altogether some 150 people came out throughout the day to listen to, learn from and be inspired by Allen. Kansas City Mayor Sly James authorized the presentation of the Key to the City to Will Allen, which was presented by Assistant to the City Manager, Kimiko Black Gilmore. Brook Hollingsworth, Lincoln University’s first aquaponics graduate, and KCMO councilwoman Sharon Sanders Brooks werealso in attendance.


Will Allen is founder and CEO of Growing Power, Inc., headquartered in Milwaukee, WI, with project

offices in Chicago and Madison. He received a MacArthur Foundation “Genius" Award in 2008, appeared

in Bon Appétit and Oprah Magazines, was named as one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People

in 2010, and appeared in the award-winning documentary FRESH. Among the many urban farmers and

activists inspired by Allen is Kansas City resident Sasteh Mosley, co-founder of the Green Acres Urban

Farm and Research Project and CEO of the non-profit organization East Meets West of Troost (EMWOT). Mosley's farming career began in Milwaukee with Will Allen at Growing Power in 1993. Back then he wore many hats including marketing, wholesale purchasing, CSA organizing and Alabama farm research. His Growing Power experience laid solid groundwork for his life work of making the

connections between growing food, community development, and neighborhood empowerment.

The Green Acres' aquaponics project is a partnership between the City of Kansas City, MO, the KCMO

School District and other organizations. This project utilizes campus greenhouses at East High School to

launch an aquaponics program and initiative that will provide fresh food to the community, education, and hands-on learning for students. Through common goals, partnerships and innovative thinking, all

involved in this effort are chipping away at the problems of urban food deserts, compromised educational systems, crime and a lack of jobs. This project will feed people while nurturing their souls through a new connection to food, agriculture and aquaponics.

To learn more about Will Allen's Growing Power visit www.growingpower.org  

You can reach Adenike AmenRa and Sasteh Meter Mosley at: amen.parankh@gmail.com Call: 816-304-7240




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