MILWAUKEE — After years of tilling away in obscurity, Will Allen has found sudden fame as the face of the urban farming movement.
In the year since he won a so-called genius grant from a Chicago foundation, Allen has mingled with former President Bill Clinton, appeared in Oprah Winfrey's O magazine and spoken to scores of groups across the nation and overseas.
"The thing that makes me happiest is that more people of color are joining the good-food revolution," Allen told The Associated Press. "Ten years ago, an African-American would say, this is slaves' work, why you doing this? Now we have more people of color at my talks. Before this I had never been interviewed by black media, and now I've had stories in seven or eight black magazines."
A former pro basketball player, Allen is the founder and chief executive of Growing Power Inc., a Milwaukee-based company that develops urban farming techniques and teaches young people how to grow food in poor, inner-city neighborhoods.
"It's about building sustainable food systems," Allen said of his mission, "creating a whole industry around local food systems that can improve communities. That can help end crime and create thousands of jobs. It's about working to make sure everyone has access to good food, to healthy food, high-quality, safe food."
Will Allen's website