Jameson Filston, Campus Carrier Arts & Living Editor
A large crowd gathered in The Cage Center on Thursday to hear Will Allen speak on his book, The Good Food Revolution.
Will Allen is the founder of Growing Power, a company that seeks to revolutionize the way we produce food. His talk addressed how he was able to change his hometown of Milwaukee through his organization. He used over 1,000 slides to illustrate his points as he talked to the BCC classes, interested Berry students and members of the community.
Allen grew up on a farm but swore he would never go back. Instead, he took a career in marketing and sales. However, he eventually returned to his farming roots with innovative methods, and has won many prestigious awards for his success. Allen was included in the Time Magazine Top 100 People and has received five honorary doctorates.
Allen attempts to promote equality in his company by hiring people from all over the community. He especially focuses on hiring young people because he wants to inspire a new generation to think differently about food.
“It’s a great transformation for kids,” Allen said. “People are connected to nature from a very early age.”
Freshman Shelby Newland found the beginning of the book slow, but was intrigued by the concepts. She said that the talk was interesting and mirrored the book. Newland also said that the slides added a lot to the talk, and that Allen had a lot to offer. She and her roommate even considered getting some worms and composting after reading about the benefits in the book. Newland thought that Allen was a good fit for Berry, and she is excited to see who Berry brings in next year.
“He was a well spoken guy who was clearly passionate about what he is doing,” Newland said.
Allen stressed the importance of good soil both literally for plants and figuratively for communities. He mentioned that planting gardens on empty lots had an effect beyond fresh food. He included several instances in which trash stopped being dumped on street corners. Allen also said that criminals left the areas shown attention and care.
Freshman Ethan Carroll found the book a bit repetitive, but enjoyed his talk. He was surprised by Allen’s commanding presence and enjoyed the message in the different format.
“I saw the talk in a different light,” Carroll said. “He really came across as intelligent.”
Allen also explained how to create a more efficient food production system. He uses a do it yourself approach, saving costs by having his company build their greenhouses themselves. He also makes sure that any potential plot is not overlooked, and placing gardens in a cemetery and behind a fire station.
“You really want to maximize your growing” Allen said. “You want to use every bit of space,”
Allen’s movement has spread all over the world, including places in Africa and Haiti. He encouraged the audience to begin thinking about ways to solve problems that he faced, but warned them not to take on something they don’t know about.
“It’s harder to do this without experience,” Allen said, “there is so much to learn.”