8:00pm EDT April 2, 2014
Will Allen is an urban farmer who is transforming the cultivation, production and delivery of healthy foods to under-served urban populations. As the son of a sharecropper, former professional basketball player, ex-corporate sales leader and longtime farmer, he is recognized as a national leader in urban agriculture and food policy. After a brief career in professional basketball and a number of years in corporate marketing at Procter & Gamble, Will Allen returned to his roots as a farmer, using his retirement package to purchase a plot of inner-city land with greenhouses, where he established and functions as the CEO of the country’s preeminent urban farm and non-profit organization, Growing Power.
At Growing Power and in community food projects across the nation and around the world, Allen 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, Allen trains community members to become community farmers, assuring them a secure source of good food without regard to political or economic forces.
In 2008, Allen was named a John D. and Katherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellow, a “genius grant,” 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, Time magazine named Will one of Time 100 World’s Most Influential People. In 2011, Allen was named one of the World’s Most Powerful Foodies by Michael Pollan and Forbes Magazine in its World Power Issue and the NEA Security Benefit Corporation Award for Outstanding Service to Public Education in 2012 for his work with children, teachers and schools.
Allen also experienced an illustrious career in sports. In 1966, he was a member of the Richard Montgomery High School State Championship Basketball Team and named to the Washington Post’s All-Metro Basketball Team, the first player ever to be named three times in the history of the award. As a high school All-American basketball player, he received over 100 scholarship offers to colleges and universities.
In 1967, Allen became the first African-American basketball player at the University of Miami Florida and one of Miami’s all-time leaders in scoring and rebounding.
Post-college, Allen played professionally in the American Basketball Association and then for a Belgian team in the European Professional League.
Allen was inducted in the Atlantic Coast Conference Hall of Legends in 2010 and in 2011, received the highest honor that can be bestowed to a collegiate athlete, the Theodore Roosevelt Award from the National College Athletic Association, his name enshrined at the NCAA Hall of Champions in Indianapolis, Indiana.
On May 10th, 2012, Will Allen became a published autobiographer of the book, THE GOOD FOOD REVOLUTION: Growing Healthy Food, People, and Communities (Penguin/Gotham Books).
In the Fall of 2012, Will Allen was the first ever inductee into the Richard Montgomery High School Hall of Fame. Richard Montgomery is Allen’s high school alma mater in Rockville, MD. He lives with his wife in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.