Last week, I visited Growing Power, the urban farm started by Will Allen. If Will Allen's name sounds familiar, that may be from his appearances on Good Morning America or in the New York Times, or from his Macarthur Genius Award, or from a few days before I visited Growing Power, when President Clinton called him "my hero." Growing Power's amazing, and I am absolutely not the first person to discover it. However, even though I was already well acquainted with the work of Will Allen and the success of Growing Power, I came away from my tour of the small Milwaukee urban farm absolutely inspired. Indeed, I think it would be impossible NOT to be transformed by it. I've always been amazed by the fervor of urban ag advocates, and now I feel like I understand. If Will Allen can do what he's done at Growing Power, then there is untold amounts of untapped potential in cities across this entire country.
This diary will give a description of the neighborhood where Growing Power is located and the food that is available in the Growing Power store.
A view of Growing Power's store
According to the USDA's interactive food stamps map, Milwaukee county suffered much higher per capita poverty and Milwaukee residents' per capita food stamps participation was much higher than the surrounding counties in 1999 (the most recent year for which that data is available on the site). The Census Bureau provides city level data for Milwaukee, showing that 21.3% of people in the city of Milwaukee lived below the poverty line in 1999. The Census Bureau also offers poverty data for the county of Milwaukee as recently as 2007, when the percent living in poverty is estimated as 18.2% of Milwaukee county residents. Presumably that rate would be higher within the city of Milwaukee itself, where Growing Power is located.
If you're at Growing Power and you want to go to a supermarket, there's an Aldi about a mile away in either direction. There are a few other places that sell food in the area, like a place called Delta Southern Groceries that is 2 miles away, but Growing Power certainly fills a need by being in the exact location where it is. An important predictor of whether people eat well is whether they have a place to buy fresh, healthy food within a mile of where they live - particularly if they do not own a car.
Keep that in mind as you look at the pictures below, taken at the Growing Power store. In addition to the salad greens, tomatoes, fish, honey, turkeys, ducks, and eggs produced on site, the store also sells produce from Growing Power's other locations as well as produce that cannot be grown in the midwest (like bananas and oranges). I assume the outside produce is sold there to save shoppers from needing to make an extra trip to a grocery store to get all of their food. In addition to the ready to eat food sold at the store, they also sell compost and worm castings for anyone who wants to grow food at home.
The pictures below don't show everything that was available in the store, but they do give a good representation of the types of things that were available.