||The co-founder of this initiative is called Will Allen and he helped create the company “Growing Power”
Growing Power began with a farmer, a plot of land, and a core group of dedicated young people. Today, their love of the land and their dedication to sharing knowledge is changing lives.
Will Allen, Chief Executive Officer believes, “If people can grow safe, healthy, affordable food, if they have access to land and clean water, this is transformative on every level in a community. I believe we cannot have healthy communities without a healthy food system.”
Their goal is a simple one: to grow food, to grow minds, and to grow community.
So how do they do it?
Growing Power’s projects fall into three essential areas:
Grow - Projects and Growing Methods - Growing Power demonstrates their easy to replicate growing methods through on-site workshops and hands-on demonstrations. They have farms in Milwaukee and Merton, Wisconsin, and in Chicago, Illinois. Growing Power has also established satellite-training sites in Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Mississippi.
The simple truth is that it all starts with the soil. Without good soil, crops don’t get enough of the nutrients they need to survive and when plants are stressed, they are more prone to disease and pest problems. That’s why they grow their own compost and vermicomposting – 10 million tons of it a year. That compost goes onto every growing bed they raise crops on. Because they know what goes in to the compost, they aren’t worried that the soil is contaminated with lead or other chemicals that humans just shouldn’t eat.
Bloom - Education and Technical Assistance – Growing Power’s educates folks through local, national, and international outreach for farmers and communities. They also run multiple youth programs, have an active volunteer base, and actively work on policy initiatives regarding agriculture.
Thrive - Food Production and Distribution – Food production occurs in the organization’s demonstration greenhouses, rural farm site in Merton, and urban farms in Milwaukee and Chicago. They also distribute produce, grass-based meats, and value-added products through the activities of over 300 small family farmers in the Rainbow Farmers Cooperative, and the organization’s year-round food security program the Farm-to-City Market Basket Program. They also sell to numerous restaurants and small grocery stores in Chicago, Madison, and Milwaukee.
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Aquaculture is the symbiotic cultivation of plants and aquatic animals in a re-circulating system. Growing Power uses Tilapia and Yellow Perch to fertilize a variety of crops and herbs using aquaponics. Aquaponics is the method of growing crops and fish together in a re-circulating system. In the Growing Power aquaponics model crops grow vertically on raised beds.
Bees may be the hardest workers on the farm – and that is saying something! Worker bees travel more than 55,000 miles and visit more than two million flowers to collect pollen to make just one pound of honey. At Growing Power, their apiary is filled with European Honey Bees, or Apis Mellifera. The bees collect nectar from several sources, but in Milwaukee the primary pollen source is white clover and basswood, creating a light yellow, delicious, high-value honey. Each hive produces 150 pounds of honey each year.
Living systems are composed of carbon residue, microorganisms, minerals, and red wriggler worms. The resulting material is remarkably fertile, giving plants access to the nutrients needed for both plant growth and for human nutrition. The “closed-loop” ecological approach to this system allows for the clean up of contaminants in the soil, for digestion and transformation of food waste, and for the production of fertilizer that is far more effective than chemical treatments. The high microbial count in their system helps fight off soil disease and breaks down food waste rapidly, keeping plants strong and healthy.
At Growing Power’s urban farm in Milwaukee, they raise a variety of livestock to create fertilizer for their farms and as a protein source. They feed their livestock an all-natural, sustainably raised grass and vegetable diet, and they supplement with commercial vegetable feed when needed. They do not use antibiotics or growth hormones on any of their animals.
Vermicompost, or worm compost, is the final product of the breakdown of organic material by worms. At Growing Power, they use worms to create a nutrient-rich, organic fertilizer and soil conditioner that they use on all of their growing beds and as a value-added product that they sell at their store and at farmers’ markets.
There are many varieties of worms, but for worm bin composting, they use a few specific earthworm species called Red Wigglers (Eisenia foetida) or Red Earthworms (Lumbricus rubellus). Red worms are often found in soils rich with organic materials in Europe and North America. These species prefer living in compost piles and crawl horizontally throughout the pile to consume rotting food waste
State of The Re:Union – A Food Revolution In Milwaukee (4:50 mins)
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Community Food Centers are local places where people can learn sustainable practices to grow, process, market, and distribute food. The prototype for Community Food Centers, is the Growing Power facility at 5500 W. Silver Spring Drive in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This historic two-acre farm is the last remaining farm and greenhouse operation in the City of Milwaukee. Since 1999, their Community Food Centre has provided a wonderful space for hands-on activities, large-scale demonstration projects, and for growing a myriad of plants, vegetables, and herbs. In a space no larger than a small supermarket live some 20,000 plants and vegetables, thousands of fish, and a livestock inventory of chickens, goats, ducks, rabbits, and bees.
The urban farm currently includes:
six traditional greenhouses growing over 15,000 pots of herbs, salad mix, beet greens, arugula, mustards, seedlings, sunflower and radish sprouts. These greenhouses also host production of six hydroponic systems growing Tilapia, Perch, and a variety of herb and salad greens, and over 50 bins of red wriggler worms;
two aquaponics hoop houses with two independent fish runs and growing beds for additional salad mix and seedlings;
seven hoop houses growing a mixture of salad greens and mushrooms;
a worm depository hoop house;
an apiary with 14 beehives;
three poultry hoop houses with laying hens and ducks;
outdoor pens for livestock including goats and turkeys;
a large plot of land on which the first stage of the organization’s sophisticated composting operation is located including 30 pallet compost systems;
an anaerobic digester to produce energy from the farm’s food waste;
a rain water catchment system; and
a retail store to sell produce, meat, worm castings, and compost to the community.
The centre offers schools, universities, government agencies, farmers, activists, and community member’s opportunities to learn from and participate in the development and operation of Community Food Systems.
Want to jump straight in with step by step instructions on how to set this up in your very own home? It is cheap and easy to create. Details here
I came across this video of a man who has figured out a system to grow 1 million pounds of food on 3 acres each and every year. How are they doing this?
* By producing 10,000 fish
* Using 300 to 500 yards of worm compost
* By utilizing vertical space
* Having 3 acres of land in green houses
* Using 1 simple aquaponic pump
* Food is grown all year by using heat from the compost piles
A packed greenhouse produces a crop value of $5 Square Foot! ($200,000/acre).
Can you imagine if places like this started popping up all over the world? It would be one giant step towards self-reliance. Food self-sufficiency is a major step towards being sovereign. If you are not able to start your own garden, consider finding a community garden or hooking up with a small local farm.
Will Allen, son of a sharecropper, former professional basketball player, ex-corporate sales leader and now farmer, has become recognized as among the preeminent thinkers of our time on agriculture and food policy. The founder and CEO of Growing Power Inc., a farm and community food center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Will is widely considered the leading authority in the expanding field of urban agriculture. At Growing Power and in community food projects across the nation and around the world, Will promotes the belief that all people, regardless of their economic circumstances, should have access to fresh, safe, affordable and nutritious foods at all times. Using methods he has developed over a lifetime, Will trains community members to become community farmers, assuring them a secure source of good food without regard to political or economic forces. In 2008, Will was named a John D. and Katherine T. McArthur Foundation Fellow and was awarded a prestigious foundation “genius grant” for his work – only the second farmer ever to be so honored. He is also a member of the Clinton Global Initiative, and in February 2010, he was invited to the White House to join First Lady Michelle Obama in launching “Let’s Move!” her signature leadership program to reverse the epidemic of childhood obesity in America. In May 2010,
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