the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.
Farming means growing crops on a
good-size piece of land in the country, right? Well, a farm can also produce
food in small spaces in the city. Just ask Will Allen.
Will Allen is an urban farmer in
the American Midwest. And last month he became one of the twenty-five winners
of this year's MacArthur fellowships, commonly called genius grants. The John
D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation secretly chooses people to receive
five hundred thousand dollars over five years. They can spend it any way they
Allen co-directs a nonprofit organization called Growing Power. He helped
create the group in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in nineteen ninety-five. Growing
Power has a series of greenhouses on about one hectare of land in the city.
provides low-cost fresh fruits and vegetables, especially for poor people.
People without much money often eat unhealthy diets that can lead to problems
like heart disease and diabetes. Part of the problem is that poor communities
often lack markets with fresh produce.
Allen also feels strongly that food that has to travel long distances from
field to market costs too much.
the last ten years, he has expanded the work of Growing Power. For example, his
daughter Erika manages projects in Chicago, Illinois. One Chicago organization
that they work with is the Farm-City Market Basket Program. This program sells
weekly baskets of fresh produce. Members of a farming cooperative provide the
food at reduced prices.
and young adults work as aides at Growing Power. They can also study
agricultural methods at workshops organized by the group. People who want to
learn how to start city farms can get intensive training at these workshops in
Allen is the son of a laborer who could not read. As a child, Will wanted to be
a basketball player. He became the first African-American to play basketball
for the University of Miami in Florida.
graduating, he played professionally. He retired in nineteen seventy-seven. He
and his wife, Cynthia, then moved to Wisconsin. Will Allen grew vegetables and
sold them at local markets in the Milwaukee area for years. He purchased the
farm that became Growing Power.
dream now is to build a vertical farm, in a building five floors high.
that's the VOA Special English Agriculture Report, written by Jerilyn Watson.
Transcripts, MP3s and podcasts of our reports are at voaspecialenglish.com.