Will Allen

Urban Farmer

Will Allen is an urban farmer who is transforming the cultivation, production and delivery of healthy foods to underserved 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, 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 pre-eminent urban farm and nonprofit 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 Catherine 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 Allen one of Time's 100 Most Influential People in the World. In 2011, Allen was named one of the World's Most Powerful Foodies by Michael Pollan and Forbes magazine in its world power issue. In 2012, he was honored with the NEA Security Benefit Corporation Award for Outstanding Service to Public Education for his work with children, teachers and schools.

In 2012 Allen became a published autobiographer with the book, "The Good Food Revolution: Growing Healthy Food, People, and Communities."