March 25, 2023

Crops and the nation

The only thing growing faster than Will Allen’s crops is his dedication to help others.

Allen was the keynote speaker April 22 for the college’s year long “Agriculture and the American Identity” initiative, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

During his evening lecture in the Spartan Center, Allen showed photos of his innovative works with Growing Power, showcasing his organization’s seven greenhouses and dynamic ways of making soil, worms and fish very useful.

“As of matter of fact today, we have Growing Power staff in Haiti building a food system,” said Allen, director of the Milwaukee-based organization.

“My original purpose was to train and pass on what has been passed on to me,” Allen said of the program that has grown into the largest urban farm in the world. “But there were a lot of naysayers 22 years ago. People have said, ‘’This would not work. What you’re doing does not make any sense.’”

Will Allen addressing NCC students an faculty. Photo courtesy Zachary Catanzareti.
Will Allen addressing NCC students an faculty. Photo courtesy Zachary Catanzareti.

His slideshow contained many pictures of Allen’s activities with children with disabilities, the work of vertical farming and his focus on the future with a five-story greenhouse.

“I feel what I do and other people like myself, my colleagues (are doing is) pass on what we learned to this generation,” the 66-year-old speaker told an audience filled with students. “Because that wasn’t done very well and we have to get back to that. That’s how our learning really happens — we pass on.”

Allen emphasized the issue of GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) and the importance of knowing what is in your food.

“As we look forward to the next 30 or 40 years, we are going to have 3.1 billion more people on this planet to feed,” Allen said.

“Many of us, if not most of us, have no control over what we eat. When we go into a box grocery store in America, we don’t know if we’re eating GMOs. We don’t know what has been placed in our food and that has to change.”

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