Urban farmer Will Allen, declared one of the world’s “seven most powerful foodies” by food writer Michael Pollan, will speak at Metropolitan Community College-Longview’s spring convocation Tuesday, April 19.
The free public event, to be held at the Pavilion at John Knox Village, 520 N.W. Murray Road in Lee’s Summit, begins with a 5 p.m. reception. The convocation will start at 6 p.m.
Allen’s 2012 autobiography, “The Good Food Revolution: Growing Healthy Food, People and Communities,” has been the “Common Read” book this semester at MCC-Longview. Eleven MCC instructors in various disciplines have used the book in their classes, and several campus programs have focused on urban gardening and related topics.
Allen was honored by the James Beard Foundation with its Leadership Award in 2011. On its website, the Beard foundation described his work this way:
When Will Allen purchased the last remaining farm within Milwaukee city limits in 1993, his intentions were simple: to grow his own food in a neighborhood with little to no access to fresh produce. “It was a food desert,” Allen recounts, “about four miles to the nearest grocery store, five blocks from the largest housing project in Milwaukee.”
Eighteen years later, Allen’s small city farm is at the heart of Growing Power, one of the most innovative food organizations in the country. The two-acre site, where Allen and his team grow 20,000 plants and vegetables and raise fish, livestock, and bees using sustainable methods, has become both a model of urban agriculture and a community hub where children and adults come to (literally) get their hands dirty.
Allen is the son of a sharecropper, a former pro basketball player and an ex-corporate sales leader. He used his retirement package from Procter & Gamble, where he worked in marketing, to purchase a plot of inner-city land with greenhouses. That site became one of the country’s best-known urban farms. Allen is CEO of Growing Power Inc., a nonprofit organization.
Allen promotes the belief that all people, regardless of their economic circumstances, should have access to fresh, safe, affordable and nutritious foods. Using methods he has developed over a lifetime, Allen trains people to become community farmers, assuring them a secure source of good food without regard to political or economic forces.
In 2008, Allen was only the second farmer to be named a John D. and Katherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellow and “genius grant” winner. Time magazine named Allen to its 2010 list of the world’s 100 most influential people. A member of the Clinton Global Initiative, he was invited to the White House to join first lady Michelle Obama in launching “Let’s Move!,” her initiative to reverse the epidemic of childhood obesity in America.
To RSVP for the Will Allen program, which will include a Q&A, go here. Local urban gardening organizations will have tables at the event.
At 11 a.m. April 19, Allen will speak to and take questions from a group of about 75 MCC-Longview students who’ve been reading his book. He’ll have lunch on campus with a small group of students, faculty and staff.
The Will Allen program is co-sponsored by the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City, John Knox Village, Saint Luke’s East Hospital, FOCUS, Mid-Continent Public Library and the Downtown Lee’s Summit Farmers Market.
The spring convocation is one of the signature events of MCC-Longview’s Homecoming week, which begins April 16 with the Flights of Fancy Mega Kite Festival. The April 20 “Art in Bloom” reception for MCC-Longview alumni and friends (also open to the public) will feature a silent auction of artistic creations by local florists. Other local art will be for sale. Proceeds benefit the MCC-Longview Cultural Arts Fund.
Get more details on MCC-Longview’s Homecoming festivities at mcckc.edu/events/lv-homecoming.