Will Allen, a MacArthur Genius Award winner and national figure in urban agriculture, will be the keynote speaker as the New Haven Land Trust celebrates its 30th Anniversary at Yale University on October 12.
The son of two sharecroppers, Allen was born and raised on Farmland in Rockville Maryland where he was an All State Basketball player for his High School and ultimately obtained a Basketball scholarship from the University of Miami. There he became the first African American to play on the school’s basketball team. After college Allen was drafted fourth round pick in the NBA draft but never played. However, Allen played professionally overseas in Belgium and while there, one of his teammates took him to a family farm and that’s where he became aware of his “hidden passion for growing food.”
While living in Belgium, he requested a place with a garden through his team’s management. He was able obtain a place with a garden and would cook fresh food for his teammates during holidays.
“When I left the farm at 18, I said never will I do this hard work again ...as soon as I touched the soil (on the farm in Belgium), I knew it was something I had missed,” Allen said in an appearance on the Steven Colbert show.
He retired from Basketball in 1977 and settled in Oak Wood, Wisconsin with his wife Cyndi and three kids, and it was there that he would pursue his “Growing Power” campaign. Cyndi Allen’s family owned unused farmland so Will took advantage, bought the land and grew food for his family and sold excess to The Milwaukee Farmers Market and other local stores.
After a successful marketing career, Allen bought some property and started setting up Training Facilities to teach low to middle income kids about food systems. Today, Allen is the Director of the Growing Power Project which is headquartered in Milwaukee.
“We’re adding new folks to our system, we have 110 employees and we’re going to be hiring another 150 in the next year and a half, so we’re growing jobs besides growing food” said Allen, earlier this year on the Travis Smiley show.
Allen along with other food activists will discuss food security, health, and urban farming in America’s changing landscapes at the 30th Anniversary celebration. The event will start at 6 p.m. and tickets are on sale for $125.
6 - 9 p.m. October 12, 2012
Yale University Commons
186 Grove Street
6:00 p.m.|Hors d'oeuvres and wine
MacArthur Fellow |Will Allen
Charles Lee Remington Award for
Outstanding Environmental Stewardship
Commissioner|Daniel C. Esty
Urban Farmer and Food Activist Will Allen Speaks in New Haven on Friday, Oct. 12
Will Allen. (October 10, 2012)